As a team, we were interested in designing for healthcare, so we listed out possible areas of interest. After having mapped it out, we realized we were particularly interested in chronic pain and the communication of pain to health professionals.
The communication of pain levels and how that is perceived by doctors is dependent on a lot of factors—and gender is a big one. Whether it’s just physical pain or emotional anguish, personal tolerance and gender influence how medical practitioners treat patients. We though it best to pick a type of chronic pain we had access to and were interested in designing for-migraines.
Migraines interested us for a number of reasons-they are an invisible illness and they are really prevalent, yet so many people don’t understand them. People who’ve never experienced one can’t see visible, physical symptoms and say, “You look fine!” Dealing with these social situations is often as uncomfortable as a the physical pain for chronic migraineurs.
To start understanding migraines more comprehensively, we sent out a survey asking suffers a variety of questions: what their symptoms are, what they do to help their migraines, how often they see a doctor, and how it affects various parts of their daily lives. The surveys included a mix of multiple choice questions and free entry text fields.
We received 84 responses and collated them to find patterns. We were able to conclude the parts of people’s lives with which migraines interfered most-social, family, health and work. Many of our respondents claimed that they had to forfeit their social life due to their migraines, that they felt that they were a burden to their family. Their medical expenses were extremely high, and some also had lost the ability to work.
We focused on the employment element, because we felt that if we found a way to help migraine sufferers stay employed, it would have a ripple effect where they would make enough money to pay for treatment, feel like they were contributing to their family and would generally feel better about themselves and their productivity.
While considering the policy, legal, and human resources ramifications, we imagined personas and scenarios. We found ourselves getting too deep in one area too early on so we decided to take a step back and look at four primary areas of interest: social, family, health management, and employment. Before settling on another firm direction we decided it would be best to perhaps come up with some solutions and scenarios that targeted all of our areas.
We drew up various scenarios, each looking at a different problem that was brought up by our survey respondents.We used these as provocations to test usefulness and desirability with migraine sufferers. We concluded from this that people appreciated products that help avoid triggers or deal with symptoms and liked the idea of being able to try out such products. They thought it would be helpful to be able to connect with other migraine sufferers about their experiences/treatment and they liked the idea of having access to expert opinions.
Our next concept was to create a “migraine-safe space” in which sufferers could interact with one another, seek treatment, as well as get some work done. We used a ‘make tool’ with a migraine sufferer to help us figure out what might be in such a space. She used notecards to show what she felt the most important features were and then used paper models and cut outs to show how she would divide the space.
Using this as the basis, we detailed the features –
1. There would be a cafe for migraine sufferers and their friends to come have a social meeting in an environment that was trigger free and only healthy/non-migraine inducing food would be served.
2. There would be a quiet meditation room
3. The space would include an area that could host speakers and group discussio
4. An additional facility would be an equipment lending desk to try out various remedies.
We found ourselves running into a lot of issues with the fact that it was a space. How would it be paid for? Why is this migraine exclusive? Would people really make an effort to come to such a space? Would they come here when they have a migraine instead of going home? Would non-migraine sufferers want to use the space or be in the cafe?
So, we asked ourselves, “Does it really need to be a physical space?” We thought perhaps we could provide a similar service in a manner that maybe didn’t necessitate creating an entire physical environment.We looked at our old proposition and decided what most important aspects were-giving people a platform to try out new treatments and a way for sufferers to share their knowledge with one another. We began to map out how this may play out across a combination of digital and physical space.
Thinking that this didn’t need to be in a place, our service morphed into a model where users could sign up for a subscription service and receive larger products and equipment and monthly-trial sized items to try, so they could truly find what helped their migraines. It could cater to each individual’s needs and would allow a sufferer to do so from his or her own home. We did a rough, quick prototyping activity where a user was given a description of our service and presented with a box of items. They were then asked how they felt about the box and what they would expect to happen next. This gave us insight into the flexibility users wanted when creating their box as well as the importance of our explanation of the process.
When we had a general sense of our service flow and proposition, we began branding our service-after having brainstormed some names, we settled on MiBox; a fusion of “migraine” and my (possessive) box. We made style tiles and then chose on a single branding theme. We chose colors that were soothing and represented a tranquil, healthy atmosphere.
Simultaneously, we created wireframes for the website which would be the main touchpoint of our service. We ran through the wireframes with a user to get feedback on the task flow and basic usability.
Then added our visual brand language, developed from the style tiles, and built an indicative site with Wix.
While the website is our main digital touch point, there are several processes that support it. We initially focused on the front end-flow and journey map, thinking about back end process, how they relate as a larger system, and channels through which our service would be provided. The stakeholder map helped us figure out persons involved, their roles, value exchange, spheres, and how they are brought together into a cohesive service.
Rather than using the blueprint and stakeholder map just to communicate how we envisioned the service to work, we viewed them side by side and were then able to really refine service.
In conclusion, MiBox is a subscription service that is a combination of digital and physical touchpoints. It’s a result of our exploratory and iterative research. Our flexible process allowed us to combine the best aspects of all our previous ideas into a service that really allows migraine sufferers to take their condition into their own hands and receive personalized relief at their doorstep.