Case Study


The Healthcare Startup

A healthcare startup had the concept of a medication management device and needed guidance on how to refine the design. We solved key design issues and created a sustainable program for the organization to ensure their customers forever remained at the heart of the product team’s decision-making process.

  • Established new patient-centered product design practices
  • Patients were twice as likely to have a good experience at project conclusion
  • Significant savings on device production costs


The team was comprised of current and former clinicians — doctors and nurses who had a clear Mission. Their Mission: To assist patients in achieving the highest quality of life possible while remaining at the lowest practical level of care. The market need for the product was established. The design, however, was not delivering a good user experience.


Take prototypes into real customer contexts

We met with a broad range of internal stakeholders and spent significant time testing, and re-testing, multiple device prototypes in patient's homes.

What We Learned

Field research revealed design & experience issues

Testing the prototypes in patient’s homes brought a new and visceral understanding of the patient experience to all layers of the organization.


Transforming the Design & Aligning the Organization

Aligning Product Experience with the Mission
As evidenced by their Mission, the company already valued the patient experience. Empathizing with the patient by literally seeing the patient experience with their product the company was able to truly value the patient-centered process.

Creating a New, Sustainable Patient-Centered Process
The process of working directly with patients to understand (and yes, even to measure) their experience helped the team to iterate on insights. Bringing contextual insights into the product team’s equation brought a focused and informed approach to their decision-making.

Refining both the insdustrial and the interaction design
Traditional standards for interaction design weren't applicable for this patient population. The touch targets needed to be 3x larger than the existing mobile standards. Because of tremors or physical mobility issues, many patients found it difficult and frustrating to “touch” icons which would be acceptable on most typical interfaces. The screen needed a better angle and to be adjustable. The screen on the original device (and the prototype) was angled upwards. That is, it was designed to be used by a person standing at the device. In patient’s homes we observed patients in wheelchairs who couldn’t see the device screen when it was placed on a standard-height countertop. To make the device (at minimum) usable we needed to make significant adjustments to the screen angle. The door didn’t fold up or down — it retracted

Two key hypotheses were proven wrong in the field
As we watched patients interacting with the door, it became apparent that the “fold-up” approach blocked the screen at critical moments and the “fold-down” approach … well, patients were just getting their sleeves caught on the door way too often. The result – a retractable, garage-like door which solved both issues.