Indiana University
Brain Bank

An organization with a website portal that streamlines
the entire resource gathering and distribution process for
researchers and provides them with database of resources.

Indiana University
Brain Bank

An organization with a website portal that streamlines the
entire resource gathering and distribution process for researchers
and provides them with database of resources available.

Overview

This project was a part of the IU grand challenge and our Interaction Design Practice curriculum. We decided to choose the topic of Alzheimer’s disease as our design challenge.

Role

UX researcher : Interviews, Observations, Secondary Review, Mapping techniques,
Personas.

UX designer : Brainstorming, Storyboarding,
Low-Fidelity prototypes, High-Fidelity prototypes.

Team Members

Sanmid Anavkar
Stalin Thomas
Cooper Wojcik

Duration

August 2019 - October 2019

Problem Exploration & Challenge

5.8 million people affected

No cure

High cost of treatment

Alzheimer’s is a disease that is hard to understand and has no cure. “It is a disease that affects around 5.8 million people in the United States. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease usually found in the elderly”. Once diagnosed, a patient brain continues to lose memory to the point of not remembering their children or spouse. There is no treatment or cure and most end up with caregivers or at care facilities because they need assistance with day to day tasks. “This also brings hardship to loved ones who have to either care for the ill family member or move them out and pay for a facility”. We decided to attack this challenging problem by research, observations, and interviewing caregivers, doctors, and family members.

Design process

Understanding the problem

Secondary research

  • We wanted to know what people had done to cure Alzheimer's disease and various technologies that already existed to help the patients, caregivers, doctors, as well as researchers.
  • The Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN) has developed the first operational online integrated research platform, which links scientists, shared data, and sophisticated analysis tools.
  • We did our second research to help ourselves with enough data relating to Alzheimer's patients, caregivers as well as family members and researchers and doctors.

Interviews

  • Conducted 6 interviews in total. The interviews conducted were with 3 researchers, 2 caregivers and 1 family members.
  • The interviews were conducted in a semi-structured format.
  • The interview protocols and questions were framed in such away that they provided insights and findings for our challenging problem.

Observations

  • There were visits to the help care center, an observation of a caretaker and a patient living overseas as well as some online observation
  • Each observations were timed. A total of 3 field observations were completed.
  • After each observations, sketches and field notes were taken which contributed towards our process.

Insights from our formative research

We gathered our findings from the formative research, which helped us move a step ahead towards our solution. In our interviews and observations, we found out the problems which are faced by a caretaker, family members as well as the researchers of Alzheimer's disease. Some secondary research helped us shape our challenge. There was no specific cure for Alzheimer's, but several technologies had already been implemented to help the patients. By gathering this data, we went ahead with the mapping techniques.

Affinity Diagraming

Using the Affinity Diagramming method, we classified the findings and problems of their respective user groups. This method helped us segregate the problems that come under patients, family members/caregivers, and researchers. Further, we tried to formulate our problem statement based on the priority of the problems.

User Personas

Defining the problem

After understanding the problem, we started with started with our ideation and exploration phase where we emphasized on different prospective solutions to different problems. Since, we were defining our problem statement, we explored different solutions that can be addressed to each user group and their problems. These solutions were ideated taking into consideration the technical, economic and social feasibility.

Story boarding

An online portal that helps the researchers to get medical information, history, data, and the status of the brain samples of the patients. The researchers have the option to request for a brain sample.

The Storyboard primarily focuses on Kathy, who is a researcher and needs some of the patient's medical history and data to get the gist of the background for her study purposes. This portal provides her with the necessary data while maintaining the anonymity.
The storyboard primarily focuses on John, who is a researcher and needs a brain sample for his research purposes. He needs to know the level of proteins, etc. which would, later on, be beneficial. As there is a communication delay between the labs and himself, his work gets delayed. This portal would serve his needs.

Problem Statement

After an ample amount of research, we finalized and decided to focus on a problem statement. How can we provide the researchers with the research samples related to Alzheimer's disease with the ease of access? In the end, we feel that helping the researchers would help to create better cures for the disease. There is no streamlined process for IU Health Neurology researchers to obtain research materials (brain tissue samples).

Solution

Our solution is creating an intermediate brain bank repository between the researcher and hospitals. We designed an online website medical portal which would be accessible to the researchers for their research on the brain samples. The portal will give them a searchable  database of local brain samples. The data and samples which are shown on the portal is received from the local hospitals. They then have the ability to find and request specific  samples.  This streamlines the process  for researchers to obtain brain samples  easily and efficiently.

Design Solution

For our design solution, we started with some low-fidelity prototypes and wireframes. After brainstorming further on these wireframes, we decided to design the high-fidelity prototypes.

Low-fidelity prototypes

High-fidelity prototypes

After gaining some insights from the skeletons and wireframes, we designed and completed with the high-fidelity prototypes. We iterated our designs twice. These iterations were reformed based on the results of the user testing and evaluation done in the initial prototyping phase. We designed the prototypes on Figma.

Iteration and Ideation 1

Landing page

Creating a brain sample request

Registration screens

User testing & Evaluation

As a team, we conducted the Cognitive Walkthrough, Heuristic evaluation, and the Think-Aloud protocol. All three of the evaluations helped find oversights that we had missed. We conducted evaluations on our low-fidelity prototypes and did several iterations to design our final high-fidelity prototypes.

Cognitive walkthrough

The cognitive walkthrough helped go into the mind of the user and critique each function. As the button of creating a request wasn’t noticeable, the primary purpose of our website wasn’t explored. This was the result of the cognitive walkthrough exercise, which helped us map the mind of the user and find such usability issues.

Heuristic evaluations

For most of the heuristics evaluations, we found some positive aspects of our prototypes. We plan to add some more elements in the profile section, such as a research paper so that the users can see their work in one place. The most important finding was the difficulty of completing the task of creating a request for brain samples.

Think-aloud

In the think-aloud exercise, we found out that we did not have any labels under our main menu of buttons. This led to some confusion for the user and needed to be changed. We then felt how better labeling would ease the task of a user to navigate through the website.

Future work & Refelection

As a part of the future scope, we plan to extend the area of the project into various other neurological diseases, as well, depending on the time we have. The business aspect of this design solution is building a brain bank. This UX project helped me develop my UX process and skills. I mainly took part as a UX designer but contributed as a UX researcher as well. Working in a team helped me improve my collaboration, which is what UX is all about.

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