To identify a user and a problem and build a solution in terms of design to help that user. Work with that user throughout the process to develop and create a solution.
For this project, I aimed to look at cancer recovery patients and the difficulties encountered while on the recovery process.
There are an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK which is a number that is ever increasing and expected to reach 4 million by 2030. The number of people surviving cancer for 5 or more years after their diagnosis is also increasing. The number has risen by over 260,000 in the last 5 years. Therefore, there becomes an increasing need to help people who are in this position and struggling.
My solution aims to help patient in their recovery process in multiple areas of their life that are a struggle and to create a something that helps with the users lifestyle to bridge the gap between medical and lifestyle.
An integral part of the process was gathering primary research, secondary research and looking at existing resources currently available now as well as looking at how apps are designed for their target audience.
“I had a Lymphedema group session with 6 other people and a nurse. I found it really helpful meeting up with other people like me. It was good knowing that you are not the only one. I can’t do this very often though because the services are sometimes full or only happen every few months.”
“I really miss doing my sport and know that I can’t do it like I used to because I can’t keep up and my body is too weak. I went from a very active to a sedentary lifestyle which was debilitating. My goal is to get back to playing tennis again.”
“I felt and still feel a bit lonely. I was housebound for most of my treatment which means that the circle of people that I saw became smaller. I have been trapped in the same four walls”
“During my treatment, I put on quite a lot of weight. My body feels heavy and I just feel uncomfortable being that overweight. I hate the way I feel about my body. “
“Waiting for my hair to grow back feels like a very long process. I just want my hair back. It makes me feel like I have lost my identity. It feels like everything has been taken away from me.”
“I have really missed going to work as I love my job … I cannot go back full time straight away but I need to increase my hours gradually”
Key Secondary Research
My user had identified 5 categories of problems which were: Social, Exercise, Nutrition, Appearance and Work. By identifying this, the solution would go on to take a holistic approach and look at the users life as a whole and help in a number of different areas.
Therefore, I went on to research these different areas in more detail online in relation to cancer survivors:
Weight gain is an especially important health issue for women with breast cancer as more than half experience weight gain during treatment. Achievements of the past have shown to be a strong motivational factor. Exercise and eating healthy foods can help: improve self-esteem, increase happiness, reduce the likelihood of getting depression, anxiety, and fatigue, building strength and endurance so the patient can regain their stamina.
Diet has been shown to be an incredibly important aspect of a patients’ cancer treatment and recovery process. Before treatment, 79.5 percent of breast cancer patients had very low levels of vitamin D, but this then increases to 97.4 percent after finishing treatment. Lower vitamin D levels among breast cancer patients are shown to correlate with reduced survival. Therefore patients are encouraged to eat foods high in vitamin D such as oily fish or take supplements.
Identity & Self-esteem
Studies on the psychosocial impact of hair loss have found that patients’ self-esteem, body image and self-confidence are often impacted in a destructive way. The negative quality of life may be worse in women due to the societal pressure to be attractive.
Returning to work
Many cancer patients are signed off work during their treatment and so going back after the treatment can be nerve racking and worrying. Patients are told to change their work plan such as work hours, duties, or your workplace.
More than one in five (22%) people living with cancer in the UK – suffer with loneliness because of their cancer, leaving many housebound and unable to feed themselves properly according to Macmillan Cancer Support. Lonely cancer patients are almost five times more likely to have not left the house for days.
Fitbit is a piece of wearable technology that motivates you to reach your health and fitness goals by tracking your activity, exercise, sleep, weight, water intake. This also takes a holistic approach to health by helping in different areas combined into one location.
The use of their challenges and recording information to be stored about the user seemed like something that could be explored further in terms of my project and its research direction.
The success of wearable technology now means that we never been more in control of monitoring our health.
An app seemed to be a good way to reach and help the user because of its accessibility and ability to be used at anytime as most people have and carry a smartphone around with them on a daily basis and it is easy to open and bring with you. Alternatively, having something printed would be much more of a hassle to carry round and therefore might not be as user friendly.
I initially started exploring the users interests to produce something that was personal, relevant and comforting as I felt that this would ensure that the user would like using it and be a fun experience for something that can be a very sad and lonely process.
My user was a very sporty person and one of their particular goals was to get back to playing tennis like they had for so many years before. Therefore, I thought about how this theme could play into the solution or drive it forward. Some of these ideas are visualised below:
The user also expressed that they liked detective/ crime dramas so I thought about how this could be transferred to a game format to create a positive and fun experience. One idea was to create a role play sort of exercise similar to how Pokemon Go works where people walk around to collect Pokemon. The user would receive orders from the DCI and have to go out and find clues. This would be mainly based around helping people to lose weight by walking and being able to gradually increase their distance/ difficultly to improve their stamina and muscle strength. However, I chose not to progress with this idea as I felt that it only focused on one area of their recovery and there were many apps already available to help with weight loss.
I began to start prototyping an app that focused on challenges and goals based around the 5 categories that the user had identified: Social, Exercise, Nutrition, Appearance and Work. I designed badges for the user to achieve for completing a goal and a point and reward system to motivate, encourage and celebrate achievements.
Completing regular user testing session was really important for understanding whether features of the app were helpful and were functional and relevant for the user. The user tried out the app and I was able to observe them to look out for places or actions that were confusing or not clear. I was then able to fine tune and make adjustments/ improvements from my observations and feedback.
The final outcome is an app called “Resume” which has the overarching concept of Resuming the users life back to the way that it was before their diagnosis and uses symbols such as play, rewind and fast forward to link to the theme.
Users are in control of their completed, current and future goals and can view their progress and set targets for each of the categories. When targets are set, they correspond to particular rewards which aims to motivate and encourage personal development.
When users complete their target they are rewarded and provided with a QR code to scan when they go to claim their reward. The app would be partnered with global scale companies to provide rewards such as vouchers.
For example, Costa Coffee could introduce a scheme where a customer buys a coffee and donates a coffee for cancer patients who are using the app.
This would be a benefit for the user as they are rewarded and able to celebrate their achievements while also going out and getting back to a more active lifestyle.
It could also be positive for Costa as it would reflect well on their brand ethos and ethics, possibly improving their reputation and also getting more customers through the door.
It could work similarly to the Toms “One for One” business model where for every pair of Toms shoes purchased, they will donate a pair of shoes to someone in need. It is a good example of how a business can use their platform to use design for good and make an impact in the world to help people in need.
This partnership between Costa and the Resume app could help to provide a reward for the user after they have achieved their social target and also advertise and make more people aware of the app.
Cancer is said to affect 1 in 2 of people in their lifetime, so the need for help during or after cancer is very relevant and far reaching. Costa is a company that provides a service for a wide spectrum of people so therefore would be ideal for making lots of people aware.
Overall, I think that this app concept could be a viable solution for cancer recovery patients as from my research, there are a limited number of apps available for help on patients cancer recovery journey. In addition, I believe that providing positivity and a fun experience for the user is a good direction to motivate and make gradual changes through challenges because as humans, we are naturally competitive and determined to prove when given a challenge.
I think that links and partnerships with large scale companies would be an important factor because it would help to raise awareness and make the app sustainable and motivating for users to progress. The partnership could also benefit the companies also by bringing more customers through the door and representing and helping those in need which would reflect well on their brand ethos.