Role in project
Sprint Planning • Sketching • Research • Concepting •
Usability testing • User flows • Prototyping • Test planning
Tools: Axure, Sketch, Keynote
We designed a solution for neonatal nurses helping them save lives
by monitoring vitals of infants these infants are often
admitted with no name and no medical history
into a grossly overcrowded low-resource environment
Neopenda is a medical device startup that gives patients in low-resource settings access to high-quality care.
Scenario: In Uganda, neonatal care is a predominant issue. The wards that care for neonatal infants are severely low in resources, where babies with hypothermia are treated with nothing but plastic bags to keep them warm. Our clients informed our team that the ratio of infants to nurses reaches 80:3. Because they are stretched so thin, the nurses are unable to consistently monitor infant vitals in the ward.
The nurses are forced to play a high-stakes guessing game regarding treatment. The product and platform we were designing for was a wearable device for neonatal infants. The device transmitted live vitals onto a tablet and allowed nurses to monitor vitals in real time.
Workshopping new designs
We met with Neopenda’s founders, Sona and Tess. They designed a current platform, but they brought us in to improve the user experience, specifically for ESL users. Not only were we tasked to design for the user experience of the platform, but the usability of operations and the Neopenda wearables.
I focused on presenting large amounts of data and gathered inspiration from Edward Tufte, as well as practices in other markets like the stock market and airport FIDS. UX best practices and the iNICU dashboard view show the use of cards to display patient information as well as pertinent information about the patient without cluttering the screen.
We interviewed 6 users total including: OBGYN doctors, nurses who’ve worked in Uganda, neonatologists, Ugandan doctors, and one of Neopenda’s formal advisors.
After interviewing users and subject matter experts of varying backgrounds, we mapped out their insights. This activity revealed specific themes around current processes and workflows, cultural considerations regarding the environment in NICUs, and pros and cons of the current Neopenda dashboard.
We discovered four primary emerging trends:
Babies tend to roll around so the device often slips off of them, which triggers many false alarms.
Visual display over auditory
We showed our interviewees the current Neopenda dashboard and found that nurses preferred visual alarms over auditory ones, due to the distraction factor.
Location of babies
Nurses have a lot of difficulty locating and keeping track of the high number of neonatal patients in critical condition.
There were particular discrepancies between what visitors and Ugandan natives reported on patient record frequency and ease of access.
Many babies have come into the NICU wards with no name. This posed an interesting challenge for our design to accomodate a relatively disorganized ward and allow nurses to address neonates in critical condition as soon as possible.
Concepting and testing
I mapped out four different concepts within an hour time span with the hopes of solving our client’s biggest concern: how to monitor 20 neonates vitals, while efficiently locating infants in the ward of varying sizes.
Recognizing that Neopenda would continue usability testing on their own, our team would come with equipping our clients with a test plan to follow.
What we learned
“Find” button would be helpful for nurses to locate specific infants
Users preferred the standard card view
Vitals are correlated
Tool-tips save real estate on the card
User preference to see alarms for specific vitals in danger
Prototyping and testing
Our next steps were prototyping, we interviewed four users, three nurses and one doctor. Our team also made a visit to a prominent hospital in Chicago.
Task 1: Monitoring Vitals
Task 2: Add A Patient & Set Parameters
Task 3: Viewing Trends
Task 4: Patient Discharge
Additionally, our clients asked for a list of recommendations of changes based on our research. I took this as a sign that they trusted our process, research, and ultimately, our ability as designers to guide the immediate next steps of developing their process. So a teammate and I, established a list of recommendations ranked “immediate”, “soon”, and “later” along with our final prototype.
Walk through the neonatal nurse’s journey below:
Neopenda test plan: now and later
A big focus of our process with Neopenda was preparing a test plan for future usability testing on the platform. The challenge was explaining design terminology and the testing process to individuals who are not familiar with design. The goal of the test plan was to be flexible & modular for future use.
In order to accomplish that, my team and I included:
A “happy path video” with PDF instructions on how a usability test is run in a best case scenario
Set up instructions of free recording software, software to install, and setting up the prototype on the tablet with an offline viewing option in case WiFi was an issue
Explaining roles in a usability test and giving examples of different question types
Collecting data by sorting outcomes, tasks, scenarios, recommendations, etc.
Users also gave us valuable client specific insights for future productions on the Neopenda device.
Using different band colors for different types of patients such as: full term, preterm, and kangaroo care babies.
Updating hardware to light up specifically for the “Find” feature
Tracking Apnea because with respiratory rates the alarm would constantly be out of parameter (babies constantly temporarily stop breathing or their hearts start beating quickly).
The Apnea Alarm would signal if the baby has stopped breathing for more than 15 seconds.
Taking into account the head size circumferences for sizing full term and preterm babies.
By implementing our future recommendations, we were able to provide nurses in low-resource environments a way to quickly notice and locate neonatal infants in need. And as a result, Neopenda now has an improved platform to help save lives. Building from what our team was able to accomplish in just three weeks, Neopenda now has a strong foundation to continue testing and iterating. In the future, they can expand the platform to cater to doctors and hospital admins, going beyond being a monitoring platform and becoming an informational hub of neonatal wards.
My Neopenda experience
Working with Neopenda, I learned the importance of aligning initiatives with my clients from day one. Once bridging the gap of communication and developing the relationship, I learned that the product and solutions following, become more purposeful and intentional in the outcome. I applied my strengths in building rapport with clients and users, presenting to clients, and well as concepting.
Areas in which I grew:
Furthered my comfort level with having a lack of users
Designing on assumptions, as long as there will be testing with iteration in the future
Conducting user interviews, concept tests, and usability tests remotely
Introducing and teaching my design process to my clients
Iterating designs through user feedback and continuing to test those changes
In just three weeks, my team and I were able to conduct our design process and overcome technological setbacks through continued iteration and basing our decisions on user insights and domain research. We were able to make a positive impact and changed the trajectory of the Neopenda direction to better help save lives in Uganda.
My client relationship feedback: