Aurora

Project Description: Team Teal created a support kiosk to help ovarian cancer survivors transition from treatment into survivorship. The Aurora kiosk was prototyped to function in the waiting room on the oncology floor of the University of Washington Medical Center. I was the project manager and the lead designer for this project.

My Role: UX Designer & Project Lead

Duration: March 2018-May 2019

Background

As a Design Lead with Design for America, I was given the opportunity to tackle a passion project to make an impact in my community. I am a fierce advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights, so I knew I wanted to tackle a project in this space. My family has a personal connection to ovarian cancer and I set out to see if there was a way design can help.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, about 21,750 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and 13,940 women will die of ovarian cancer in the United States.

Research

For this project, it was extremely important that we took the time to learn about ovarian cancer and cancer care. Our team read blogs, watched youtube videos, and studied terminology to educate ourselves and prepare to interview providers and patients. Below is an example of a video our team watched to situate ourselves in the space.

Through this primary case study, we learned two main things that make ovarian cancer different from other cancers.

  1. Despite extensive research, there is not a screening test for ovarian cancer.
  2. Often times one doctor does the chemotherapy, surgery, pre and post treatment for an ovarian cancer patient. ( This physician continuity is rarely seen in other types of cancer)

Interviews

With this in mind, we reached out to three ovarian cancer care providers to talk about where they see the biggest pain points in the ovarian cancer care process. Our provider interviews were semi-structured interviews that each lasted roughly 45 minutes. From these interviews, we learned several valuable pieces of insight.

We spent a lot of time in these interviews identifying possible areas of impact or pain points that could be addressed by design and technology. These discussions illuminated a lapse in support of ovarian cancer survivors. There is a gap in treatment between the appointment in which a survivor is told they are in remission and their follow-up appointment three months out. Survivors often report feeling a sense of abandonment and lack of support during this crucial time in their journey. After these thought-provoking discussions with ovarian cancer specialists, we narrowed our scope to focus on this time of transition. Our team scoped our design question as follows

How might we better support ovarian cancer survivors navigate the transition from treatment into survivorship?

With a newly defined question, we were prepared to interview survivors. At this point, I became aware of the barriers to communicating with patients, and the necessary steps to protect medical data. I reached out and partnered with a local community group, Survivors Teaching Students, and they were generous and gracious in sharing their stories with us. We virtually interviewed 13 ovarian cancer survivors, and interviews lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. The vulnerability and strength that came out during these interviews was one of the most impactful parts of our entire design process. Some of the key patient insights are as follows:

Synthesis

With provider guidance and survivors stories, we qualitatively coded all of our notes to begin thematic analysis. We wrote all of our insights on a whiteboard and started to form clusters of similar insights.

Design Requirements

After thorough secondary research and analysis of patient interviews, themes in what types of support patients were seeking emerged. Those included

  • Increased ability to connect with other survivors
  • Increased access to support groups that matched their interests and abilities
  • Increased access to relevant and accurate research surrounding post-treatment life

Design

We ideated surrounding these principle themes and chose to work with the idea of a kiosk experience composed of a physical kiosk, an interactive digital survey, and a printable component. In our research, we found that the majority of ovarian cancer patients are above age 60, therefore a digital solution alone wouldn’t be enough. Our experience is meant to address this gap of treatment and support ovarian cancer survivors in reaching out and continuing their journey. A physical kiosk in the same space they began their treatment would create an element of trust, and continuity of care. The short digital survey would be customizable to the user’s needs, then they would receive a printout reminder to take home to remind them of the resources they acquired.

The Kiosk

AuroraKioskPic

A physical kiosk in the same space survivors began their treatment would create an element of trust, and continuity of care. The prototype kiosk can be attached to any wall and are easy to assemble. It consists of two separately sold pieces made of plexiglass, one with a the screen and the digital survey, and the other optional piece with a foldable chair attached. The optional piece provides more privacy and also opens out for greater accessibility. Survivors mentioned information privacy and security as a concern so these two pieces were designed to provide high walls provide privacy but are also open to allow for a more open feel.

The Interactive Digital Survey

Try our interactive digital survey here

Survivors are often given a pamphlet of resources at the end of their treatment, but remarked often finding these pamphlets impersonal and irrelevant. In creating our survey, we sought to find a way to revamp these pamphlets and make them more meaningful to each individual survivor.

Connections: There was a common theme of connection amongst ovarian cancer survivors. Many mentioned valuing the connections they made with other survivors during the post-treatment process and leaning on those connections to assist their transition. We designed this pathway to support and encourage these connections.

Resources: While resources were provided in the pamphlets, our survey provides survivors with more tailored resources. 

Support: This pathway offers support groups in the area that match the interests and needs of the survivor.

The Printout

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 9.18.48 PM

Our printout allows survivors to take home their resources, support, and connections in a personalized pamphlet format. At their next follow-up visit, they can edit and change their online profile and reprint their personalized portfolios.

click here for our slide deck

Acknowledgments

The University of Washington Chapter of Design for America gave me the opportunity to tackle a passion project and I chose to tackle the challenges faced by ovarian cancer survivors. I believe women’s health matters and this project held a lot of meaning for me, my family, and my team. Special Thanks to Heidi Gray of the University of Washington Department of Gynecologic Oncology and the Washington Chapter of Survivors Teaching students for sharing your stories and supporting my team and I throughout this journey. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here. 

Reflection

Looking back on this work, I feel I have learned a lot since then. This was my first experience as a project manager and team lead, and I learned a lot of organizational hacks along the way. I hand picked a really great team and we all learned together. I do wish we had more time to do usability testing in a hospital setting and reiterate on our design decisions. I had plans to od Wizard of Oz style testing with UW Med.

While this is some of my earliest work, this is the project that made me fall in love with Human Centered Design and the impact it can have on people’s lives. I will never forget listening to the survivors tell their stories and share their lives with us. I am and always will be passionate about women’s health and it was an absolute privelegde to work on something that means so much to me!

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