Visual Test Results

VTR aims to help individuals living with diabetes understand the medical information from their bi-yearly blood test results.

Challenge

The project was in partnership with Dr Graham Kramer, the Scottish Government’s Clinical Lead for Self- Management and Health Literacy.

 

In the words of Dr Kramer–

 

"One in 20 people live with diabetes and have to have regular blood tests and measurements. Often people go back to their doctor or nurse to get the results of these tests and have a discussion about what needs to be done to help improve things. Unfortunately, it often can be difficult for people to take in these results, which are often meaningless numbers, understand them and then be expected to have an informed discussion about them with their healthcare professional. Ideally, people should be able to see their results in meaningful and engaging visual formats (not just numbers) to contemplate before their consultation."

 

In practice, this is difficult to achieve, but it would be wonderful to work with design experts to develop a solution. If successful this could have a significant impact on the quality of care people with long-term conditions can receive.

 

It can be hard for people to live well with a long-term health problem such as diabetes, heart disease or persistent pain. Things can be made worse by the demands and complexity of modern healthcare which can disempower and put people off.

 

We aimed to create a visual, understandable test result. The results were tailor to individual preferences and requirements. It was then proposed to share the test results before an appointment, improving potential impact.

Approach

To tackle this opportunity, we took a Service Design approach. This method uses interviews, idea creation and testing to examine and improve communication. A small-scale trial took place in August 2014.

 

Our initial research consisted partially of interviews with people living with Diabetes as well as the medical professionals involved in Diabetes Care. Trust was an important part of their relationship. However, when viewed through Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis, trusting the professionals to be responsible for understanding medical information could prevent a shared, adult responsibility. Education may not be the only solution. Instead of expecting more knowledge from individuals, the opportunity could be to place their expertise, their current experience of their life, on equal footing.

 

Our interviews and research provided the platform to begin creating ideas. We sought inspiration from open fields such as health applications, as well as the more abstract such as the London Underground map. All project participants, as well as members of the general public, were shown these visual ideas. The key was not to seek preferences but to discover why different ideas worked. The conclusion was that a standardised test result is not appropriate. Instead, a framework of overview, result details and individual experience is needed. Depending on individual needs, each section can be adjusted.

Alliance, Guan Yersel, 2008

Self-management is the responsibility of individuals. However,  this does not mean people doing it alone. 

US Department of Health & Human Services (2010)

An individual with chronic disease is in the medical office an average of 6 hours a year. The patient spends the remaining 8,754 hours outside.

Diabetes UK (Scotland: State of the Nations, 2013)

Diabetes has a cost for the NHS, society and most importantly for those who live with diabetes.

Research Findings
  • Excellent resources in education (diabetes) and goal setting are already available.

  • Tech-enabled options to help monitor diabetes are available, but they are less popular.

  • Looking at screens during consultations breaks the line of communication.

  • Work in a GP practice is structured to maximise individuals time with doctors.

  • Doctors' high level of respect makes an equal relationship difficult to foster.

  • People don't "use" a doctor, they both enter into a relationship with the service.

  • Both doctors and individuals want better conversations during consultations.

Result
  • Six separate visuals were developed to provide individuals with the ability to tailor the information in a form they can easily understand. Each test result also contains a section to allow people to identify issues arising from their condition in their daily lives, creating a tool to self-identify where they need support in managing their health.

  • Visual Test Results will help individuals have better conversations with their health care team during the valuable time they were provided and help people better live with their condition. Read the full report. 

My Takeaways
  • The experience of running a project independently and professionally.

  • Service Designers need to create 'empathy' between them before creating an understanding with their client.

  • It is crucial to understand and respect that different people have different ways of understanding information.

  • This project has nourished my interview skills - hands-on meetings are always better and fun way to engage interviewees.

  • Ask anyone for feedback - you never know it might lead you to an obvious question or solution.

  • The experience of presenting at a national conference.

Our poster for the UK National Health Literacy Conference 2014, held at Keele University.

How can Service Design help visualise Diabetes test results to better understand & enable better Self-Management?

Final Layouts of Visual Test Results
  • Six separate visuals were developed to provide individuals with the ability to tailor the information in a form they can easily understand. Each test result also contains a section to allow people to identify issues arising from their condition in their daily lives, creating a tool to self-identify where they need support in managing their health.

  • Visual Test Results will help individuals have better conversations with their health care team during the valuable time they were provided and help people better live with their condition. Read the full report. 

My Key Activities
  • User & Market Research
  • Concept
  • Prototyping
  • Usability Testing
  • Plan and Conduct Design workshops
  • Project Management
Client: Links Health Centre, Montrose
Project Duration: January 2014 – August 2014
Tools Used: Personas, User Journey Map, Service Blueprint, Contextual Interviews, Lego Bricks, SWOT Analysis, Shadowing, Empathy Map.
Traffic Light Results