Case Study

Sage

A mobile app service that helps its customers eat healthy by connecting local food suppliers, doctors and insurance companies.

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Context

At a Glance

Sapient Iota tasked the service design class to come up with a service focusing on sustainable food sourcing that would improve a community’s health. In a team of three, we explored multiple problem spaces before settling on prediabetes.

86,000,000

Americans have prediabetes and the majority of them don’t know they have it.

15-30%

Of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes.

My Role

I acted as the Lead Product Designer for the final interface. I also supported the project from beginning to end by framing primary research questions, synthesizing secondary research, supporting concept evaluation and generating boundary pushing design ideas.

A Wicked Problem

In many ways this was a “wicked problem” with many challenges and no easy answers. We framed our problem statement as, How do you solve a health problem that people don't have (yet) but are highly likely to have in the future?

Research

Framing the Problem

To inform our understanding of diabetes I modeled the space based on secondary research conducted from CDC and the ADA.

At an abstract level, the problem seemed easy to solve but of course that’s never the case. We had to understand the challenges people faced at a personal level. To do that we conducted extensive interviews with 7 people who either had diabetes or were predisposed to get it based on their hereditary factors.

Interview Debrief

The team debriefed findings by the whiteboard to get each other up to speed.

Slicing Data

To make sense of the data, I sliced it at a granular level for each participant.

After several passes at the data I discovered that for nearly all participants, despite voicing concerns about getting diabetes, they mainly wanted to focus on the current goal of getting to a healthier weight first.

Synthesis

To further synthesize our research and generate ideas I created two personas. These helped us illustrate the different opportunity and challenge areas,

Diverging

Exploring Solutions

Prior to settling on one solution we explored multiple ideas using storyboards for rapid feedback with potential customers. Based on that feedback we ideated on multiple possible and wacky future ideas.

One of our storyboards focused on continuous blood sugar tracking, a la Quantified Self. However as we found out, most people weren’t interested in monitoring their data all the time.

Challenges To Address

Showing storyboards to potential customers helped us identify four major themes,

Giving Up Control

Surprisingly, people were ok with giving up control if it helped them achieve their goals.

Cheating

That said some people still wanted some sort of forgiveness or “cheat days” especially if they were craving a certain food that they liked.

Data Privacy

Participants expressed concerns about how their data is used, they didn't want their medical information to float in ether.

Busyness = Autopilot

In busy moments, folks mentioned they were less likely to change their behaviors.

Interaction Design Opportunities

Based on people’s experiences with other services and apps I discovered certain favorable interaction themes,

Quantitative

Some people were very conscious of where the data came from and wanted to control the flow of information. They also wanted to do their own analysis and preferred to look at numbers.

Emotional

For others the data was not as important as the feeling of feeling energetic - it was more about the outcome as opposed to tracking everything.

Playful

For other still, they saw games and fun experiences (one participant mentioned Zombie Run) as a way to make activities that were tedious (such as exercise) or very open ended (such as going on a trip) to be more exciting such as surfacing landmarks.

Solution

Sage

In our final solution we converged on a mobile app service that helps its customers eat healthy by connecting local food suppliers, doctors and insurance companies. We called it Sage due to the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties.

30,000 Foot View

To understand how the service could work, I created a value flow model illustrating interaction from doctors, to food companies, to insurance, among other players in the health and nutrition space.

Mobile Ideation

Sketching Flows

Working with another designer we white boarded together rough flows, key screens while brainstorming ideas.

Paper Mockups

My teammate sketched out a prototype of the interface

Mobile App Design

To illustrate the final mobile app solution we created a few key screens primarily to illustrate key concepts.

Onboarding

By automating the data feed from their doctor's office the customer is able to have their medical data on hand including the info they often forget about such as the list of foods they should eat / avoid or specific nutritional properties they should watch out for — most of this information is handled invisibly by the app.

Insurance provides discounts (based on actual medical outcomes) on future restaurant / grocery orders and this in turn ensures that the value stays within the system.

Grocery Delivery

In the grocery delivery scenario, the customer gets their food chosen for them automatically. However they have can customize, for example they can choose a specific theme for a week, e.g. Mediterranean which would generate food and a list of easy to use recipes. Alternatively we give user the option to choose their own foods potentially replacing healthy items with unhealthy but that in the end will give them a smaller discount.

Onboarding

Since most people prefer to eat out, including those who still cook their meals, we incorporated a Restaurant meal search option. Current services such as Yelp primarily focus on efficiency (distance away from the user) and cost. We flip this formula around by showing only the healthiest options available.

Feedback

To track progress and ensure they're on track we're surfacing key information such as weight - as an analog to blood tests which provide additional detail (e.g. blood sugar) but are typically not done frequently for those who don't have diabetes.

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Benefits Enrollment

A responsive redesign to help employees maximize their health and wellness benefits.