In 2016, GenXys launched a new medication decision support system—TreatGx. This tool allowed doctors and patients to consider medication options based on a variety of personalized parameters, including a patient’s genetic profile, overall health, and potential interactions with other medications. It is the only tool on the market that uses individual, condition-specific information as well as genetic testing to create personalized medications.
For the next version of this system, GenXys wanted to enable a physician to model the impact and interaction of medication options across multiple diseases and conditions. This technology is not currently available on the market. GenXys approached Tacit Design Strategy to consider how these complex interactions could be visualized and embedded in a simple, user friendly interface that would be more patient-focused than the current version. Tacit was selected for its human-centred approach to design research and its experience with patient-centred co-creation and co-design—providing a deep understanding of the problem space that informs the final design.
Tacit first developed a series of co-creation sessions to gain insight into the emotions, attitudes and values held by patients, caregivers, pharmacists and doctors around a variety of health and medication issues.
Unlike the more common focus groups, co-creation provides for open-ended sessions where participants are encouraged to apply their knowledge and expertise of their own experiences towards building a deep understanding of the problem space. These sessions were invaluable in providing some key insights into the needs of patients and caregivers in managing their health. We learned, for example, that patients are highly motivated in managing their own health, but are often frustrated by a lack of access to credible sources. They also highly value the knowledge and skills of their medical team, but were often frustrated by a lack of communication among those professionals as well as with patients and caregivers.
Co-design allows participants a further opportunity to participate directly in the design phase. Typically, the design team will respond to the co-creation phase by creating tools and activities that empower participants to imagine how to start framing solutions. In this case, we offered up a selection of common and new technologies and asked participants to create their own platforms.
Here again, the results were quite enlightening. The design team expected some conservatism towards new technologies, but in fact the opposite proved true. Participants of all ages seemed comfortable with apps and online platforms and were quite specific in what they wanted. Notably, they asked for a calendar that would help them manage medications, appointments and health care.
From the results of the co-creation and co-design phases, Tacit extracted several principles that guided the design of the health platform. Several different concepts and directions were pursued.
The final design for the platform offered several benefits to all people involved in a patient’s care. For patients, it offered one centralized tool to help manage medications, conditions and overall health. It included medication reminders, an easy interface to track symptoms and other health metrics, educational material, and importantly they were able to control access to their information, sharing it as desired with their care team. For caregivers, often family members, it offered a way to help them track the patient’s health, medication adherence and a calendar to help manage appointments. Physicians can view the interactive effect of several medications and conditions at a glance, and see their patients’ health data, helping them make more accurate treatment plans.
The overall aesthetic chosen was intentionally non-clinical and appeared more like a lifestyle or fitness app. This clearly positioned the platform as patient-centric platform with a simple to use interface.