Inspiring Healthy Behaviour Change With Good Design
- 3 mins read
Published on Friday 6th May 2016
Whether it’s Google’s smart contact lens which monitors diabetics’ glucose levels, or Mimo’s connected onesie which monitors babies’ sleep, the world of mHealth is finally starting to gather momentum.
My phone is my GP, nutritionist, personal trainer, psychologist and physiotherapist all neatly contained in my pocket. By owning and controlling my data, I have the power to make positive changes to my health.
And for the NHS, mHealth could mean saving millions of pounds by ensuring patients are compliant with medication. Not to mention allowing our ageing population and those with chronic illnesses to live more independently and better self care.
Designers now have the power to help people live healthier, happier and longer lives. But a life changing app or wearable doesn’t happen overnight. Here are some of our core design principles for creating health applications:
Lead with empathy
Whether it’s epilepsy or weight loss, a deep understanding of the user and their everyday challenges through direct observation and ethnographic research cannot be underestimated. Spend a day in the life of your user, conduct one-to-one interviews, speak to family, friends and healthcare professionals. Get to know them and their world in a meaningful way and your product will achieve true behaviour change.
Diversity in design
Apple missed an opportunity when they forgot to add menstrual cycle tracking in the Healthkit app. Make sure your design team is as diverse as it possibly can be.
Keep it familiar
Ensure your application fits seamlessly into the patient and/or HCP’s ecosystem. Healthcare professionals are extremely busy and technology can often become a barrier. Familiarise your team with the analytics as it’s still common for those working in the NHS to use much older browsers and technology.
It seems obvious but this is where a lot of health apps fall down. If you have limited budget, this is the one area not to scrimp on. Tools like Axure or InVision are great for building low and high fidelity prototypes to test usability and accessibility.
Prepare for an emergency
Due to the sensitive nature of health data, the user may need to login each time they load the app. Not ideal in medical emergencies when a direct line to a GP or hospital is needed. Biometrics can therefore be a great solution to allow quick access.
Make it useful
Don’t just create an app that passively monitors the user’s health. Implement an algorithm that will translate this data into useful and personal advice. You may also want to explore integrating the app with third party devices to pull in relevant data and incorporating positive reinforcement when users reach certain goals.