A Designlab project, the AMMA application focuses on identifying early warning signs of asthma and helping prevent severe asthma attacks based on data and better adherence to a person’s asthma action plan.
As part of my course at Designlab, I designed AMMA (Asthma Monitoring and Management App). The aim of this app was to design a user experience that helps those who suffer with asthma feel more in control of their condition and to lead an empowered life.
Over 39.5 million people (12.9%) have been diagnosed with asthma in their lifetimes in the US alone. Asthma is responsible for 14.2 million physician and 1.8 million emergency care visits annually (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention).
I used primary & secondary research methods to engage with asthma patients, supports and medical professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the pain points and solutions related to asthma. I distributed surveys via Google Forms on forums dedicated to asthma support and management with the aim of collecting comparable data on common triggers, symptoms, tracking methods and asthma treatments.
1. To identify pain points, habits, preventive measures experienced by patients
2. To learn about the methods being used by Asthma patients to manage their medication, symptoms and triggers
3. What kind of language, terms and mood users associate with Asthma
4. To understand how an app can support people with asthma
1. 7 User Interviews (~45 mins / interview)
2. 32 Survey Respondents
3. Literature Review for Asthma
4. Competitive Analysis
1. When were you first diagnosed with asthma?
a. Can you tell me about your asthma condition today/presently?
b. How has living with asthma impacted your daily life?
2. What happens when you experience symptoms?
a. What kinds of activities or environments tend to trigger these symptoms?
b. How often do you experience triggers and symptoms, and what are they like?
c. Is anyone involved in your asthma management plan? How are the involved? Tell me more...
3. How do you manage your symptoms currently?
a. If medication - when do you take them? How often? How consistently?Has this changed over time?
b. Do you ever monitor or track any of your health indicators (symptoms, mood, environment, medication, etc.)
4 participants with asthma (age range: 18-37)
2 supports (family members) of participants with asthma
1 General Practitioner Physician
Below are some of the key findings from surveys and user interviews. My research largely indicates that people with asthma have a passive attitude towards their self-management; however, they are open to learning more about seamless methods to track their condition to prevent and control flare-ups. Key points that were also noted include:
1. Prevention is always better than a cure: need for increased self-awareness driven by data on triggers, environment, habits & symptoms
2. Quality of life impacted in countless ways: Quality of sleep, exercise, increased stress, chronic state of anxiety or fear and prolonged illnesses
3. Need for sensible reminders & alerts: for medication, refills, appointments, alerts for weather and air quality
4. Data sharing capabilities with doctors & supports: to monitor severity of asthma and symptoms to adjust medication as needed
I conducted a competitive analysis and discovered several existing asthma management applications to compare basic features and opportunity areas. My research also led me to assessing habit forming / gamification concepts in app development, specifically Yu-Kai Chou’s Octalysis Gamification Framework which details the core drivers of human behaviour that are principles in developing habit forming apps.
The Affinity Map presents an analysis of Asthma Management and Habit Forming apps with the purpose of uncovering patterns and approaches in user flows and engagement, across (1) Retention (2) Customization (3) Community (4) Analytics & Insights and (5) Game Design Methods. Ultimately, there is a gap in the market for asthma management apps that incorporate an equal measure of functionality and behaviour changing techniques.
Having synthesized the research findings during the discovery phase, I boiled down what I understood to be the main user pain points to frame this project and work towards a solution.
I developed three personas that best captured the patterns displayed by users in my research. The personas were my main point of reference when I encountered difficult design decisions later on in the project.
Based on my research findings, I created a user flow to map the overall application, functionality and potential actions that could take place within the app.
Based on the user flow, I sketched low-fidelity wireframes to clarify the information hierarchy and key elements for AMMA. I focused on the following user flows: log-in, entering peak flow & tracking, yellow action plan, rewards centre and analytics. Sample low-fidelity wireframes below:
I created the following high fidelity flowchart in Sketch. The top section is user onboarding which is important to introduce the user to the app and to collect medical & vital information. The five sections below the user onboarding are for the main menu options: Home, Tracking & Action Plan, Rewards Centre & Community, Analytics & Insights and Settings.
The high fidelity screens were used to build a prototype in InVision to test the application flow and identify challenges users faces while completing a set of tasks.
I conducted in-person & remote interviews using InVision, observing how users completed tasks while identifying successes and pain points.
1. Register, log-in to AMMA and proceed to setup personal/medical info
2. On home screen, peak flow value has already been entered in Yellow zone -
proceed to track mood, symptoms and triggers
3. After tracking, initiate yellow action plan
4. From home screen, view rewards centre, helpful tips and community info
5. From home screen, view your weekly analytics / diagnostics
1. Task Completion Rate
2. Task Level Satisfaction
3. Task Time
4. Error Rate
Five participants in the user test:
3 users with asthma
1 healthcare professional
My goal in developing AMMA’s identity was to create a subtle but playful interface while still providing a high level of functionality for the user. I drew inspiration from principles of game design incorporating personification, streak tracking and the ability to unlock rewards in the design of this application. The design utilizes subtle blue and convivial periwinkle hues to evoke a sense of companionship, dignity and clarity with soft green, red and yellow accent colours to create a simple and clean interface.
Drawing back to the initial user pain points defined earlier in this case study, I designed AMMA with the goal to integrate those key user needs into the core functionality of the app. Given more time, I would have liked to take into account the user testing data collected to iterate on AMMA and continue evaluating if the metrics and design were improving.
This was a fascinating project to work on, and it was certainly challenging to conceptualize the integration of game design methods in a healthcare app to help users adopt better habits towards their self-management. If this project could take off, I would be keen to explore the possibility of building or integrating with smart-inhalers as the next step in the product roadmap. Real-time data provided through connected devices, such as smart-inhalers with corresponding apps, are becoming increasing integral as solutions for asthma management.