Streamlining the therapy process
With an initial idea of helping people with mental disorders get better treatment, My team and I designed our product Sense.I, which is a cross-platform application for mental therapy that streamlines therapy process and making it more effective for both therapist and patients through a wearable tattoo sensor and therapy management service.
Sep 2018 - Dec 2018
• Performed research on Anxiety Disorder and wearable sensor technology via user interviews, expert interview, literature reviews, and competitive analysis
• Created sketches, wireframes, and conducted in-person and remote usability tests to iterate ideas
• Lead visual design and created an interactive prototype to present the solution
Video made by my teammate Jingyi
Mental illness is a big issue for modern people and it is hard to manage and improve it. Hence, we wanted to create a solution to help people who are in need of relieving such a mental burden and bring happiness to people's life. As we explored and evaluated a vast amount of areas, we focused on Anxiety to narrow our scope.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States.
An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. (19%) have an anxiety disorder.
-- National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2018
We explored the ways in which we can provide a more effective way to improve anxiety, and defined our original direction.
Offer emotional support to people with anxiety disorder through physiological data tracking
Anxiety Detection and Prediction via Technology
Detecting emotional status and accordingly predicting anxiety via wearable devices like body gesture sensors, wearable tattoo sensors, voice sensors, and etc.
Anxiety Attacks Mitigation via emotional support
Providing real-time feedback, emotional support, and mitigation strategy by using their own powerful memories, encouraging moments, and proven clinical methods.
We conducted in-depth research to have a better understanding of if our initial idea could work and how it could be complemented.
We made an overall research scope based on the data that need to be validated from our initial product idea and kept optimizing it as we were evolving our problem. We used different research methods including literature review, competitive analysis and user interview to gain a comprehensive and deep understanding of our problem space.
Gain knowledge and perspective from professionals
To get accurate information and opinion on our approach, we were able to interview 3 professionals. One was from Texas Material Institute at UT Austin, and the other two were from the Department of Psychology at UT Austin and were a part of the Anxiety and Stress Clinic.
Information and perspectives from them helped us learn how wearable tattoo sensors work to collect biological data and how clinical anxiety disorder treatment is going.
Our interviews with therapists -1
Our interviews with therapists -2
One piece of interview summaries
Through our preliminary research with therapists, subclinical people who are anxious, and clinical patients who are suffering anxiety issues, we found out the flaws of our initial approach. Therefore, we evolved the target problem with the supportive findings.
Wearable tattoo sensors can support data collection in anxiety tracking, providing valuable timely data
Data collected is accurate for medical treatment
Tattoo sensor can be unnoticeable, can be transparent, or have any design that is required
It can last one day and it is rechargeable. Multiple charging options are available like NFC, C-USB, Solar cells
The wearable tattoo sensor can be attached to a specific place to detect physiological data
The bio-integrated device technology is matched with the appropriate measurement factors which can act as indicators of anxiety
Anxiety prediction is counter-effective for patients but helpful for therapists
If therapists know about pending anxiety, they can manage therapy better and help patients understand emotions more. While letting patients know about pending anxiety attack can be counter-productive. Patients are highly likely to worry about their anxiety and end up being more anxious if they are always informed with their anxiety level via anxiety tracking and reminders.
The existed huge clinical gap slows down the treatment process and needs to be fixed soon
We could see a huge gap in professional mental health treatment. Currently, therapists have to rely on a number of different services to fulfill different requirements involved in the therapy process. They use surveys, homework, and software to understand the patient's situations, though it lacks real-time tracking and feedback. If therapists know about pending anxiety, they can manage therapy better, and help patients understand emotions more.
The diversity of subclinical support implies less potential for us to pursue the initial direction
In the sub-clinical population, each individual adopts different ways to go through anxiety attacks. We could see there are a lot of applications focusing on different aspects to provide support, including meditation, yoga, improving situational awareness, helping self-monitoring on thoughts, etc. We realized that one method cannot fit everyone.
Reframing our goal
After we decided on our product direction, we conducted one more round of interviews, literature review, and competitive analysis to dive deeper into the treatment process for Anxiety Disorder. Our target is to find out more pain-points that both therapy and patient face during the treatment process.
We analyzed products widely used by therapists and patients during the treatment process. Through researching the competition, we gleaned insights on what they are focusing on and what they are lacking of to help us make informed design decisions.
There is a lack of patient data analysis and
a lack of tracking on the treatment process and homework during treatment
We created personas for our target users therapists and patients to establish empathy on them and guide us through the design process.
User Journey Map
To visualize the treatment process and extract pain points, on the basis of the interviews with therapists and literature review, we created a user journey map. On a general level, all patients go through these 8 stages of treatment. A stage may take 1 or more sessions depending on individual patients.
To design for streamlining the process of therapy, understanding the process from both therapists' and patients' sides was very important.
We were mapping treatment journey and allocating pain points
To overcome anxiety disorder, going through the process is important
In one of the most effective and widely used treatment approach CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), avoiding anxiety only enhances the condition. Guiding patients challenge and change unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors improve anxiety.
Patients leave homework incomplete and do not record thoughts in a timely manner
Patients think assignments are arbitrary
They try hard to give “correct” answers over real answers
Inability to do daily tasks and assignments due to unforeseen events
Patients tend to forget the steps to complete a task, and complete half or not at all
They have a bad association with the word “homework”, which prevents them from working on it
Reliance on too many software options throughout the treatment process makes it hectic to manage
Therapists use management software to organize therapy record
They use Qualtrics and Redcap Survey to create surveys and give them to patients
Some mobile applications are used as assistant to help mood tracking, thought record and etc.
Our synthesis and analysis based on the research material helped us identify problems that patients and therapists face during the treatment process, which our product can target to streamline the process, making therapy more effective.
Lack of active patient involvement slows down the treatment process.
Mismanagement exists in giving patients homework, tracking their progress.
Difficulty in tracking patient homework and delay in guiding through home-tasks.
To fill the gap in the current therapy work-flow, to develop a product direction, we brainstormed ideas and features our product can have.
Initial features for our tool
Treatment Progress Tracking
To envision how these features work together, we sketched our ideas out and evaluated them within our team.
After we sketched ideas and analyzed the pros and cons of each, a pattern started to emerge, and further refinement led to our initial specific approach.
Physiological data collection, analysis, and visualization
Timely data-based evidence to enhance treatment
History data to track progress
Treatment progress tracking
Keep therapists and patients informed
Encourage treatment engagement
Collaborative and timely guided approaches in CBT treatment
Assignment collaboration through guidance and comments
Timely communication via message tool
Workplace and homework management
Homework template for easy editing and cloud file storage
Homework tracking and reminder to ensure evolvement
Notes for every work and idea
Validating & Iterating
We kept updating and modifying our ideas.
User testings helped us gather feedback and iterate our solution
We got a lot of valuable feedback from our three rounds of in-person and remote user testing.
Provide more guidance to help patients know what to do for homework
Homework data analysis would provide more insights
Physiological data analysis
Physical data should be highlighted to show the anxiety period
Access to patients’ information needs to adhere to HIPAA to protect their privacy
First categorize documents by domain instead of document type
Content and interaction
Content in the homepage is a little bit overwhelming
Add access to patient profile page from therapy schedule in homepage
We made high-fidelity screen mockups for the most important touch-points of our service and demonstrated how it works on laptop devices.
Patient situation tracking including psychological data, treatment progress, homework.
Psychological data is collected via wearable tattoo devices from patients. Analyzed and visualized data is shown to therapists.
Patient treatment sessions can be planned, edited and tracked here.
One place for therapists to manage all files and give them out to patients.
Editable Homework template helps therapists work flexibly and efficiently. They can edit homework and give them out to patients.
Therapists and patients collaborate together to get homework done through guideline, discussion, reminders.
Patients and therapists can communicate when patients are working on homework. Therapists are able to track homework anytime and send reminders to patients if needed.
Real-time communication through messages between therapists and patients.
They can communicate easily and safely. Therapists can send a file to patients and turn them into homework if needed.
Work management platform with schedule, notification, notes, and calendar.
Easily track treatment progress and homework workplace from patients' side
Patients can check physical data collected by tattoo sensors, work on homework with instructions from the therapists, ask for guidance from therapists when they need.
At the end of this project, we received comments from therapists collaborating with us over the course of design. Their feedback validated our solution's functionalities, effectiveness, and aesthetics.
Comments we received from therapists
It looks much better than what we are using now.
This would help me a lot in managing
all the documents.
It has what I want for my work.
It's appealing, organized, and intuitive.
If you decide after the class that you want to pursue it further, then we can set a meeting to take things from there.
It was a rewarding design journey with my teammates and our professor Mr. Fleming. We got the opportunity to explore the possibility of combining physical devices and mental health. The whole research&design process let me gain a lot.
Do not limit your ideas
Think out of the box to explore more possibilities and then evaluate them to decide which to take or abandon. Do not be afraid of one idea is hard to be realistic, they all contribute to new inspirations or "A-ha" moments.
Effective collaboration sparkles great design
Team collaboration is one of the most parts of the design process. Working together inspires each other. Arguing and convincing in decision-making lead to better solutions.
Don't be obsessed with the original ideas
Design is the constant loop of "understand, make, test, and repeat". Explorations and re-iterations based and research and user testing guide designers to reach the better pathway.
Manage your project well
Project management is essential in the long term team project. Keep notes to record each step including rationales behind design decisions, takeaways and so on. Keep design documents organized to make the process more efficient.
Be user-centric and scenario-based
Stepping into users' shoes and building empathy on the actual scenarios are crucial to success.
Do not waste time making early versions beautiful.
In the early parts of a project, ideas do not need to be complete, just good enough to be explored and thrown away. The more beautiful you make them, the harder they are to abandon.
If given more time, I'd like to think about:
What's the MVP?
If this is a real project in an agile environment, the MVP will be a wearable sensor plus a webpage version of the data analysis and homework collaboration that informs therapists patients' situations and eases homework completion. In this way, we can test the effectiveness of this idea quicker.
How do patients think about it?
Our current design focused on designing the therapist's side. What more could we do on the patients' side? What if they do not have access to work on homework on the computer? What if they cannot afford the wearable sensor? Who should pay for the wearable sensor?