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queery: Connecting the queer community, one person at a time.

Hello, everyone!
Chelsea here, at the end of this quarter to sum up our journey with queery throughout our time in AC4D and beyond. I admit, this will be a bittersweet blog post for me. We’ve grown so much and learned a lot in this past year, and looking forward to the future is a simultaneously exhilarating and frightening exercise.

First, let me tell you a story. When I was 16-18 years old, I came out as queer to my friends and family. There wasn’t a lot of questions; in fact, there were no questions. I had this overarching sense that no one really wanted to address it; it was an elephant in the room.  It was what one of our participants called being “unsupportive in a passive way.” They said,

“I don’t care who you make out with, but we’re all equal.” That’s coming from a kind place, but often it is incredibly dismissive of what it’s trying to support. The feelings of otherness is so much bigger than who we kiss or what bathroom we use. It’s so relentless.”

As we worked with the trans* and gender-variant community, I realized that while our experiences were completely different, we did share this feeling in common—the feeling of being alienated from our friends and family and the subsequent fear of rejection when we came out.

One of our participants, Emily, talked about her experience as she was “walking the plank” both with her identity and her social interactions.

After synthesizing the stories of the many participants in the trans* community, we realized that there was a circle of rejection, retreating, and reinforcement that the community experienced.

Rejection was in the form of people ignoring them, people verbally or physically abusing them, or people cutting them out of their lives outright. There was then a retreat to safer, online spaces where they could be themselves with others, but through online media and their own experiences (like the story of this trans* student being suspended just for using a gendered bathroom), there is a continuous reinforcement that people do not accept or care about them, and then they feel rejection anew.

We made queery to break that cycle.

queery is a service that allows members of the queer community to meet based on interests for one-on-one networking. Users choose their interests, their location, and schedule, and queery pairs them up by what they want to talk about.

We’ve also considered the fear of being outed (or indicating to someone that you are queer before you are ready to tell them)—we don’t want to be like Google Plus, who accidentally outed a transgender woman to her coworker. Because of that, we have a commitment to the privacy of our user’s data, and also a handy way of people to find one another in a coffee shop without outing themselves, where folks hit the “I’m here” button on the reminder pop up, and the screen will turn green and vibrate (thus alerting the other person that you are there, but not calling too much attention to yourself).

We’re very cognizant of the feedback we’ve received around keeping our user’s data safe, and because of that, this has changed the way we’ve thought about making queery a sustainable business to continue providing value to the queer community.

When we thought about adding in the additional challenge of maintaining queery through a stream of revenue, we wanted to make sure that the queer community knew that they own queery. That’s why we propose to do a yearly pay-what-you-want subscription (minimum $10) for the community. The idea that is you can pay into the community to help out other members in the community, or if you don’t have a lot of cash on you, can still access queery for a minimal fee.

When we projected this out with growth over three years, we realized that we would most likely be profitable in 2017 and be able to continue to provide value for the queer community by adding more features and partnering with other local LGBT and trans*-specific organizations to throw parties, get people to know one another, and get people connected.

In this quarter, we have been piloting with the local queer community in Austin, and the feedback we have received from the community that encourages us. One participant said,

“[When I met the other person,] I felt connected [to the queer community] again, and that felt awesome. I hadn’t realized how cut off I felt.”

However, there is more than just encouragement—we learned through the pilot that the intent of queery was not as well-explained as we’d hoped.

“It was a little bit unclear to me what the purpose or the end goal of this was except to meet people and possibly make a friend.”

Indeed, queery’s purpose is to meet and make friends, but I think we wrongfully assumed that people would have the same mental model as we did around the importance around friendships, and so in future iterations, the importance of making friends will be better explained.

We also found that the network effect extends beyond queery. Emily and Robert, two participants, met through queery, and later recognized one another at a party. Emily invited Robert over to hang out with her and her friends. If queery had not been present, Robort might have never received that invitation. We were overjoyed when we heard about this.

I also realize that if queery succeeds, we might be planning for our own obsolescence. If the queer community is already well-connected, wouldn’t that mean that queery is no longer needed?

Maybe. I’d love to live in a future where when someone comes out, it is not looked at as an elephant in the room, but celebrated with open arms and love. I’d love to see, and have seen before, queer communities rally around their members for support. And I hope that queery is another support for the queer community to lean on one another when they’re going through rough times.

I want to work collaboratively with other LGBT organizations from an angle of being queer-first; a unique angle for those of us who don’t want fit the mold, don’t really care to fit the mold, or those of us who ware figuring out what the hell is a mold.

I plan on continuing my work with queery and will continue to reach out to the communities that we have built ties with in the past year. Without their help, I don’t know where I’d be.

And if you’re interested in getting in on queery’s next steps—contact me. We need folks to pilot, and we’ll be seeking out more and more folks from the queer community in Austin to help me make queery something great.

Signing off,
Chelsea

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Coda: Inner Circle Part 1


I’ve always been interested in childbirth- fascinated, because it’s amazing. And then petrified, because everything I’ve ever seen or heard about it is so scary; why is that? It’s a process our bodies are designed for.
When my team was looking for topics to research, we came across an article in the NYT detailing some pretty staggering statistics on birth in the US. One in three births results in a C-Section. The US is one of the most expensive places in the world to give birth, and we also have one of the highest maternal and infant death rates in the industrialized world.
We did a lot of research into this topic to find out WHY these things are happening in birth in our culture. Our huge takeaway insight was that our culture sees birth as a scary, out of control event that needs to be addressed as a procedure. We’ve taken control away from the mother and put it into medicalized methods and procedures that doctors understand.

One of the primary reasons for this is that women don’t see birth anymore- we used to literally support each other through the labor and delivery process and so would see the birthing process unfold before actually going through it. Women saw that it was a long, hard but totally doable process that our bodies are designed for. When birth starting happening in hospitals, women stopped seeing birth until they went through it themselves. By that time, their vision of it had been incredibly flooded by the images from the media that it is crazy, out of control and needs to be intervened upon (which is where I imagined my own fear spawned from)

So, our team wanted to design to enable women to have positive birth experiences. When women felt enabled to make informed decisions about their birth, they would end up feeling empowered by the experience instead of feeling bowled over by it.
We saw through our research that women that headed into birth feeling informed and assertive tended to have a more positive feeling about their birth experience afterwards, and women that were less informed and authoritative and had more of a “I’m going to roll up to the hospital and see what happens-I trust my doctor” attitude tended to feel more bowled over by the experience and have more negative feeling about the experience afterward.
One of our participants showed us an example of a birth plan that she had written for close friends and family detailing her wishes and setting boundaries around her upcoming home birth. Her plan helped friends and family feel included, let them know how they could help, and also allowed her to set boundaries with them. This email set a great tone for her birth and also for her impending motherhood.

It was also a provocation for the design of our startup: Inner Circle: The Birth Plan for Everyone Else.
Inner Circle is a web application that helps pregnant women create a birth plan for friends and family. By offering questions, prompts and examples from other women’s experiences, Inner Circle allows women to practice an assertive voice around their upcoming labor and delivery.

We are currently pilot testing. Pregnant women can go through the process of creating a birth plan email for friends and family via a survey monkey web form that we’ve created. We will then format this information into a Birth Plan Email for her to send to friends and family. See below for an example and go to innercircleplan.com if you know anyone that would want to pilot with us!

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How to create a pilot app for $1.54 (and a fair amount of time and aggravation)

Fair warning, this is a technical post and doesn’t cover much (if anything) design-related. I just wanted to share what I used to allow for us to build up a prototype without much cost.

As we are knee-deep into the fourth and final quarter at AC4D, the task is to pilot our ideas within the community. The amount of fidelity can vary greatly, but one of the goals is to assess whether or not our abductive leaps have landed on solid ground.

I set a rather ambitious goal to actually build our application in its entirety. I also wanted to explore a few technologies which I haven’t had the time to investigate otherwise, but I believed were going to be a solid fit for our project.

The first thing I did was to go to Walgreens and purchase a pre-paid Visa card. Many online services, especially the ones I wanted to employ, require a credit card to be on file before utilizing any free trials. This allows me to create a solid budget constraint and to avoid any security issues with my personal credit in case the data is stolen, which happens more often than you’d like to imagine.

The next steps occurred in a less-than-ideal order, but it worked for me.

I went to Amazon Web Services site and configured an EC2 instance. The Linux micro instance is free for one year. Since I am no stranger to their pre-configured Ubuntu instances, it was an easy choice.  I could create a complete separate post about this step, but the short-short version goes like this: Read the directions they give you, read them again, attempt what they describe. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Once the EC2 instance was up and running, I poked a few holes in the firewall to allow for an SSH connection and HTTP. I also created a set of SSH keys so that I could safely connect to our git repo and deploy code. You don’t have to have a git repo, but I certainly recommend some form of version control other than copying and renaming folders.

So why choose EC2? Freedom and cost. The EC2 micro instance supports nearly any stack you could possibly wish to use. If I had chosen a typical hosting service, I would pay a lot more and have rather limited choices as the IT manager for hosting services usually likes to keep their servers in lock-step and tend to lag on support for the latest libraries. EC2 is free for a year and I can do what I like. That’s an incredible deal.

Having said that, if you would like to save yourself some incredible configuration headaches, Digital Ocean is a rapid up-and-comer in the hosting space which provides a ton of flexibility, a great management interface, and very little challenge in configuration. You just pay a bit more for the convenience.

With this much configured, I wanted to get a server up and running as quickly as possible. I had played a little bit with Meteor in the past, but I wanted to try it for our project for a few reasons:

Firstly, it is a complete stack with a Node.js front end and an integrated Mongo data store. My view is that if I need to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, why not let that be all I have to learn instead of trying to pile on Python or Ruby? Granted, CherryPy and Flask are pretty quick-and-easy, but a simple stack means that it’s easier to bring people onboard to help. Mongo is a recent favorite technology of mine since it doesn’t require a strict schema. I can add new attributes without having to retrofit.

Secondly, it takes only 4 lines to install, create a project, navigate, then start a server. I would be able to discover any network issues very quickly this way.

Thirdly, it is intended for use as a web app. Updates to data or behavior are pushed out to the user without having to ‘bounce the server’ (stop the server, make chances, then start the server).  This also means that the site is always ‘live’. As the users interact with the system, it can constantly update the other users’ view. In the case of Queery, this means that the moment a new meeting is available, other users could be notified. Static web pages can’t begin to come close to the level of interaction possible.

So far, everything I have described has cost $0.00. So where does the $1.54 come from?

If you want a domain on the cheap, 1and1 is impossible to beat. If you want a .com, it’ll set you back a whole $0.99. This sometimes means you need to get creative with you domain name, but ‘getqueery.com’ seems pretty reasonable to me.

To get the name ‘getqueery.com’ to point to the EC2 box, I had to use Route53.  I honestly don’t know if there is another way to use DNS to point to an EC2 instance, but for $0.55 including tax, it seemed like a pretty reasonable deal.

It was quite a learning experience to get this up and running, but you can now visit http://getqueery.com/ and sign up for our pilot!

As the pilot progresses, expect a few followup posts on how to implement multiple views in Meteor and how to use the HTML5 geolocation and vibration APIs!

I hope this has inspired you to think a little differently about just how far you want to go with your pilot. Got any questions or suggestions? Feel free to contact me via email or twitter

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New Quarter, New Queery

Welcome to Quarter 4, everyone!

Alex and I last posted, Queery was a fully fleshed-out design concept that we presented to a panel of entrepreneurs and designers. The initial response we received was very positive, and overall, we’re pleased to see that Queery is resonating not only in the hearts of trans* folk, but in people who are interested in being allies to the trans* community.

As a reminder, Queery is an invite-only safe space for trans* and gender variant folks to discover their local community through face-to-face meetings. Queery aims to create a community around get-togethers and fuel connections through matching folks by common interest.

Where are we now?
For the past two weeks, Alex and I have been working on developing a pilot program that we can work with the community. We are looking to test out Queery with people who want to provide feedback on the service so that we can make it better. It’s one thing to test folks with paper prototypes, but another to test with a working website.

Below is a peek into the finalized wireframes for the Queery website.

Since we have started our piloting, Alex has been hard at work setting up an EC2 instance and a GitHub repository to make sure that we have all the development tools we need for future coding work. I’ve been working on making sure that we have all the pages and styling we need to match the wireframes.

Going forward, we are seriously thinking about our business plan and how Queery will sustain itself. Will we be receiving grants from LGBTQIA organizations for assistance, or will this be powered by its amazing users? We are hoping the latter.

Want to Help?
For any of you who identify as trans* or gender-variant, we would love your help in piloting Queery. Would you like to meet new people in the Austin area? We can set you up with one on one meetings with other folks based on interest. Please reach out to us at spectrumproject@ac4d.com if you are interested.

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BringUp selected for the 2nd round of the $50K Arch Grants Global Startup Competition

Although Will Mederski and I may have been in radio silence around AC4D recently, that doesn’t mean we haven’t continued to work on BringUp.

This past fall we got our software about 2/3rds complete with help from 2 students from MakerSquare. The automated parent signup process now works, and you’re welcome to try it out by texting the number  27  to 512-861-8455.

This winter, we submitted BringUp for the 3rd Annual St. Louis Arch Grants Global Startup Competition (www.archgrants.org) This organization provides $50K grants to about 20 companies willing to relocate their headquarters to the St. Louis area, along with lots of free accounting, marketing and legal assistance. It’s free money, no strings attached. Will and I are proud to announce that BringUp has made it to the 2nd round of the 2014 competition!

The 2nd round is a bit of a lighting round, as we had one week to prepare a 3 minute YouTube video, as well as an additional presentation. Luckily, Will and I were readily prepared from the work we did last year at AC4D. Creating this material on top of SXSW and a bad case of strep-throat was no problem at all. Please check out our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v25N0fNBCCs

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The Spectrum Project Update 7: Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

As my design partner Alex explained in his blog post, from CoffeeRoulette was born Queery, a service exclusively for the trans* and gender variant community for pairing people together for safe, one-on-one interactions with one another within a curated community.

When we last left you, we were going to test our wireframes with users—so far, we have tested three users and plan to test another two users by Sunday, and write up a full report by then.

The response has been extremely encouraging. “Where were you six months ago when I moved to Austin!?” said one of our participants while pointing at our wireframes. “You need to make this, invent a time machine, and then give me it.”

Our preliminary tests have also unearthed some usability issues of our wireframes—the confirmation screen for the application after the meeting has been set is unclear, and some of the icons on our navigation bar were not clear enough to convey meaning.

We have since updated our wireframes to not include the navigation bar, and to instead, have an easy, one-at-a-time flow that prevents the user from doing too many things at once. In our new organization, we will have singular flows where a user sets up a meeting, has reminders for that meeting, and only until they complete a meeting and rate the meeting will they be able to set up a new meeting.

Additionally, Alex and I have started asking the hard questions in terms of edge cases:

  • What if someone feels uncomfortable or unsafe during the meeting, how can we stop it?
  • How will we be able to monetize this service to pay for itself and keep it going for the community?
  • How do we pitch this idea to coffee shops, and how do we get more coffee shops involved in trans*issues?
  • What happens if someone who is not supposed to receive an invite is sent an invite (through a mis-typed e-mail address, for example)?

Before our presentation next Saturday, we want to think about these questions and more while we continue to refine our wireframes this week.

We’re also getting fired up for our own reasons—because both Alex and I are cisgendered, we get asked a lot by others, “Why make an application for the trans* community when you are not trans* yourself?”

We will never be able to fully understand the struggles of someone who is going through transition. What I can understand is the anxiety I feel when I walk into a new place with new people, and now I am suddenly expected to walk around to everyone and introduce myself, with no knowledge of how the conversation is going to go. I can understand wanting to stay online with my friends, as I have done that for years and years, only meeting my internet friends once in a while if I had money. I can understand the pain and awkwardness of a conversation going south.

I get giddy thinking about the folks who we have talked to and who are interested meeting one another and hitting it off. I trust that with the right advisors and with the support of the trans* community, we will be able to build something that the community can take over from us and call it their own.

Again, Alex and I are continually thankful for the folks who have been testing our wireframes, providing us feedback, and guiding us on the way to Queery. We’ll see you for a final blog post next week.

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Testing Our Concept through Scenario Validation

When we last left off, we illustrated how we used the power of storytelling to elaborate on our design idea Inner Circle: the Birth Plan for Everyone Else— a smartphone app that guides expectant mothers through a series of questions regarding their impending birth, empowering them to have authority over their birth experience.

Over the weekend, our group tested some of the features of Inner Circle through a user-testing method called scenario validation. Scenario validation acts as a litmus test for whether the intended features and functions of our application are viewed as needed and useful by our intended audience. To do this, we create multiple short stories with accompanying visuals in which a fictional user would use our application to help solve a specific problem at a specific time. These sketches contained the minimal flows needed to communicate the feature in order to test the idea.

To validate the concepts, we held one group session with a total of 4 expectant and recent mothers, some who had hospital births, and some who had homebirths. We read aloud one scenario and had participants fill out questionnaires about each scenario. We then held a group discussion with participants about the features and usefulness of this tool and how they had perceived it.

As we expected, this type of concept validation proved to be invaluable. The feedback we received about the core concept was overwhelmingly positive:

“I think [Inner Circle] would be helpful for somebody with their first pregnancy. It seems to ask questions that I wouldn’t even think to ask. It feels like it really fills a void.”

“There’s something nice about having a birth plan for everyone else. It’s something that’s needed and I didn’t know that I needed it.”

“Every pregnant friend that I had, I would tell them, this would go into the package they need to prepare for their birth.”

Most importantly, scenario validation allowed us to see what features might need a clearer value proposition:

“I don’t think it would be that difficult to just send two different emails. I don’t know if I need an app to facilitate that for me.”

The discussion and feedback from participants informed us that a tool that creates communication hierarchy should be secondary to a tool that provocates the creation of a birth plan for friends and family.

This week, our team will be concentrating on constructing the wireframes which prompts the user to answer questions related to the planning of their birth–the location, people involved, communication boundaries, and tasks which need to be delegated. This feature will be complimented by the communication hierarchies which will disseminate information to the appropriate people–all people will receive opt-in links to tasks such as food prep whereas other people will also be able to volunteer to pick up an older child from school (inner circle only).

At the same time, we will be reviewing previously conducted research with mothers to make sure our design addresses the issues they wished they had known to prepare for. Our goal is to present this information in creating a birth plan for future mothers in their planning stages so that they know what to expect and will be feel more confident and assured entering into motherhood.

“This empowers you to be the boss lady, which is an important way to feel going into becoming a mother.”

Look for another update within the week. As always, if you have any thoughts about Inner Circle, please don’t hesitate to comment here or email me at meghan.corbett@ac4d.com.

 

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The Spectrum Project Update 5: Validating Assumptions

When we last left off, we had presented the first iteration of CoffeeRoulette—a service that helps forge friendships between two trans*friendly people over coffee and a game.

CoffeeRoulette’s best features include:

  • a curated community of trans*friendly folks, initially seeded by the alpha testers in the trans*community.
  • a no-hassle 45-minute timed meeting to meet with others (but not feel bad if your time runs out and you don’t want to meet them again)
  • a way of connecting others in a generally anonymous, one-on-one way to protect the privacy of individuals.

This past week, we’ve been testing these features and more by using scenario validation. Scenario validation is a process by which we create multiple scenarios in which a (fictional) user would be using our application, along with screenshots of the application as they are using it.

Then, we give the users a feedback sheet asking questions to rate different statements about the application from 1-5 (where 1 is that they strongly agree with the statement, and 5 is that they strongly disagree with the statements). Statements can range from, “I feel like I can trust the people I meet through this application” to “I would like to use this application more in the future.”

We tested with folks inside and outside the trans*community—we felt that testing outside the community was important to validate our assumptions should we choose to expand our curated community from solely the trans* community. The responses we received were interesting and helpful. They ranged from:

“I really like the one on one aspect of this…I go to Meetups and it’s just hard to connect with one individual person.”

to

“Why isn’t this a dating app?”

It’s helpful to hear a validation of our design idea, and that, for the most part, we’ve been met with optimism and kindness. We also know how helpful it is to receive critical feedback on our idea to kickstart our thinking. We were provided that this Saturday when Alex presented our idea to a critical audience instead of a friendly one.

Some of the questions that were asked of us were, “How do we know that the games are in the coffee shop?” “What’s your business plan? How will you make money?” and “What if people steal the games?”

We had answers to some, and on others we had none. We knew our idea worked and people were interested in it, and it felt more “real” to us than ever before, but there are still more hurdles for us to jump before it becomes an actuality.

 This week, we’re working on incorporating the feedback, doing our last round of user testing, and finalizing our prototype in code. We’ll be taking in all of your feedback and making the idea more solid and more real.

Look forward to the next update, where we will have a more solid version of CoffeeRoulette to show you.

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Healthcare: A Proposal for Supporting Recovery

Over the last few months Jacob Rader, Bhavini Patel and Scott Gerlach have been studying healthcare.  Our research focused on the documents and records that patients interact with and how these artifacts affect their relationship with the medical industry as well as their understanding of their own health.  Through contextual, qualitative research we had the opportunity to learn from a wide variety of people and identify many opportunities for design to make an impact in the healthcare system.

 

 

Patients

In talking to patients in at-risk communities we encountered a disconnect between the quality of care that people have access to and their perception of that care.  Put simply, most people’s perception of healthcare is largely linked to the extent that their healthcare reaches out and meets them on their level.

Insight
Patients will not be proactive in their own care, they need the system to guide them and help them establish accountability.

Through our research we found that when healthcare was at its best was when patients were being proactively engaged by their healthcare provider; the provider would meet the patient on their level and would facilitate care for them.  Even in situations where the technical care was good, if the system didn’t reach out to them, patients didn’t feel as stable.  Whereas, people who have access to healthcare that addresses simple things like helping them schedule appointments and arrange transportation feel much more supported and cared for by their providers.

 

Professionals

On the other side of this we saw that healthcare professionals are stretched very thin, pulled by both the volume of patients they care for and the bureaucratic demands of their work.  Much of the time and energy that professionals have to expend is not directly perceived by patients.

Insight
Due to the technical nature of modern healthcare doctors have lost a common language for communicating with patients.

As modern medicine has developed it’s become increasingly complex and specialized forcing doctors and medical providers to develop a vernacular and understanding of the care their providing which is increasingly disconnected from their patients.  Additionally, most professionals’ technical workflows don’t lend themselves to an understanding of the patient’s experience of healthcare: so problem areas like confusing or conflicting documentation don’t get addressed and become an additional obstacle that patients must negotiate.

 

Good Communication

When the two previous insights are layered together, we start to understand why miscommunication and misunderstanding so often develop in medical care.  If we understand some of the factors driving poor communication between health actors, it becomes crucial to define what good health communication looks like.

Good health communication happens through interactions that meet the patient on their level.  It gives patients small, understandable pieces of information as well as the time needed to process them.  It gives patients actionable information and prompts when they need it.  Ultimately good health communication helps a patient build understanding while encouraging self reflection.

 

Supporting Patient Recovery

Our goal is to leverage interaction design to help extend more support and clarity to patients without demanding more time and energy from professionals that are already stretched to their limit.  In our research the most pronounced need for this sort of good health communication is in the transition from inpatient hospital care to outpatient recovery.

From the moment a patient enters the hospital, the hospital staff must be preparing for that patient’s departure.  The high-volume nature of the hospital along with the reality that so many individuals in the hospital have a part to play in the care of each patient means that there must be very clear goals that create some alignment between all the professionals.  Near the top of that list is ensuring that the patient can leave the hospital as soon as they are well enough to do so.  The consequence: as they are leaving a hospital’s care, patients receive a condensed burst of information about their recovery.

Many of the doctors and nurses who participated in our research reported that the majority of patients who call during recovery are asking redundant questions that had been addressed with the patient through written or verbal instructions prior to them leaving care.

Clearly, patients are not processing the information they are being given in a way that is relevant to their recovery.  This doesn’t just lead to confusion and redundant phone calls, it also leads to complications in recovery.  Patients don’t understand or adhere to the treatment plans that doctors have in mind for them.  They don’t heal properly, aggravating weakened areas which often forces them to be readmitted to the hospital.  This causes extra strain on an overloaded system.  Readmittance is a problem area that many hospitals are actively trying to problem solve, in part because of new guidelines in the Affordable Care Act.

 

Our Proposal

The current system overloads the patient with a deluge of technical information at a single moment.

We propose taking all the information and sending it to the patient in manageable pieces over time via text messages.

We see a system that reinforces the education that patients receive while in care with timely reminders after they return home. What might this look like:

Patient is informed about the text messaging program as they’re preparing to leave care.

The patient starts receiving texts while still in care and the messages continue after care at targeted times that corresponds to the patient’s recovery.

Weeks out of care and the patient is still receiving helpful recovery information and appointment reminders.

 

Impact

We believe that a system like this will help on a number of levels.  Firstly, it will connect patients with information at appropriate times in a formats they are more likely to digest and act on.  Secondly, it will reduce preventable complications and readmissions.  Finally, systems like this will encourage patients to think about their health on a more continuous basis and will help them feel more connected to their own health and the healthcare system.

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The Impact of Storytelling: An update on our design process around pregnancy, labor and delivery

James Lewis, Meghan Corbett and I are pushing ahead with our design idea around pregnancy, labor and delivery.  You can read our last update on the blog here.  Our design idea which is becoming a “thing,” is called Inner Circle: The Birth Plan for Everyone Else.  Our research last quarter pointed so strongly to our culture managing birth as a scary procedure that often needs intervention (get the baby out!!!) instead of a hard, long, completely do-able and natural process that our bodies are designed for. We were motivated to design towards the notion of making this concept more accessible to women.

We were so inspired by hearing women’s stories around their birth experiences; both good ones and not so great ones.   The women that had had great experiences felt so empowered and strong; that this experience had set a tone for their start of motherhood in such a powerful way.  The women that had less great experiences felt bowled over,  like the choices about their own birth experience were being made for them, around them, and not by them.

We’ve spent so much time processing and brainstorming what we could do to bridge this divide; how can we design to support women in having a more positive birth experience?  How can we translate the stories of the empowering experiences and offer some of the components that supported those women to women who may not otherwise have access to them?

Our last blog post detailed the intent and function of  Inner Circle: The Birth Plan for Everyone Else . We started out with the idea that women needed to be able to clearly delineate lines of communication to pull supportive people closer and keep the people that pull at them or need boundaries set kept further away during the labor process.   We started building the skeleton of the interface, called wireframes, last week and presented it in class in a formal presentation.  We’re now in the idea validation phase, where we are creating short scenarios of how a user might use our tool.  These scenarios will be accompanied by short storyboards to help accentuate the emotional value proposition of using our tool.   We’ll use these documents in user focus groups with pregnant or recent mothers to give them a good sense of what our tool does and we will use discussion questions to provocate ideas to further improve the concept.

The ask??!  Help us!  We need your story and your thoughts!  We have two testing sessions at AC4D this week: Thurs at 7pm and Sunday at noon.  Here’s a link to our doodle schedule if you’d like to sign up: 

Testing will take about an hour, and you’ll get a chance to connect with other women around your experience with this important issue.  And there will be snacks!

 

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