Asthma Buddy

A tele-healthcare system for asthma patients to monitor their condition and to improve their communication with healthcare professionals.

process

research
ideation
prototype
user testing
iteration

research

A life-saving system for patients with severe asthma

Asthma affects more than 5.4 billion people around the world and 1 in 20 of them suffer from severe asthma, which can lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. In 2016, more than 1000 people died from asthma attacks. An effective system has to be put in place to help the patient control their asthma and hence save lives.

Every patient is unique

Healthcare professionals have to tailor the medicine for each patient and getting the treatment right takes time. According to a survey, up to 41% of severe asthma patients have taken a few years to find the effective combination of medication and triggers of asthma attacks.

You don’t know what you don’t know

A lot of near-fatal or fatal asthma incidents are caused by the patient not recognising the worsening symptoms of asthma attacks. An existing solution is the asthma action plan. It helps you identify asthma attacks and remind you what to do. However it is a physical copy thus relies on the patient to not lose it and to actively memorise the plan.

problem

Asthma patients want to reduce hospital admission
Because of the inconvenience & wanting to save time
But they need to update the healthcare professionals regularly in order to receive an effective treatment.

ideation

How might we hfind out the patient’s triggers of asthma attack?
How might we help healthcare professionals to provide feedback and adjust medication?
How might we provide emergency help to users during asthma attack?
How might we find out the most effective combination of medication for the patient?

Using tools like FAST diagrams, issue maps and TRIZ method, the solution was found to be a smart inhaler and an APP with the following features:

1. Symptoms tracker and Patient diary
Paired with smart inhalers and peak flow meters, the app can track patient’s symptoms based on the usage of both devices. Together with allergy tests and patient’s medical record can help patients find their triggers.

2. A regular skype appointment
It allows doctors and patient to catch up. Doctors will suggest a time interval between appointments depending on the patient’s situation. Patient will receive a reminder to book appointment. They can see real time free slots of the doctor and initiate the booking.

3. Activating the asthma action plan when in emergency
A voice-guided instruction will be activated when the system detects unusually high usage of inhalers. When the user is at home the volume of the instruction will be higher. While when the patient is outside, a ring-tone will be rang to avoid embarrassing the them.

4. Notification to remind patients to take medication and read the doctor’s feedback between appointments
It prevent patient from missing medication and allows user to get instant feedback rather than having to wait till the next appointment.

DIAGRAMS & SYSTEM BLUEPRINT

Communication Diagram
The diagram looks complicated but the main communication flow is: Asthma patient was referred by GP to Pulmonologist, who then work with other HCP to adjust the treatment strategy until patient’s asthma symptoms are under control.

prototype

user testing

User feedback

1. Hamburger button not glanceable
The hamburger button hides all the options making it harder to navigate through the app.

2. Emergency call button
Although the button placement was supposed to be a less accessible spot, it could still be accidentally triggered by left-handed users. In case of emergency, the emergency help page adds an extra step.

3. Difficulties in recording symptoms
For more extreme symptoms, when user struggling with their symptoms they won’t have the time to record it. Yet, when they are not struggling their recordings of the symptoms are not accurate.

iteration

Changes made based on feedback:


From hamburger button to the traditional Nav bar
Grouped and combined pages to 4 distinctive functions:

Moved to the top corner with a bright red colour
Placing the emergency call button to the top where it is recognisable yet won’t be easily triggered.

Added a severity indicator along side with recording function
Symptoms severity indicator in a slider format allows patient to input their perception of the symptoms subjectively. It gives doctors a deeper insight with or without the recordings.