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Battling Cancer with UX

Imagine you go to a doctor and receive the message you have cancer. Your life suddenly changes. How do you cope with this new situation? During the first edition of the Design Jam Amsterdam a group design professionals had to come up with solutions to improve the quality of life of a cancer patient.

The Design Jam Amsterdam is a one-day pressure cooker workshop, in which designers from various fields generate ideas for a given challenge. Bob and Martijn of User Intelligence were mentors for this event together with Jeroen van Geel of Fabrique and Tijn Borms of Funda.

Idea generation sessionsIdea generation sessions

The event kicked off with an introduction by the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF), a nation-wide organization for cancer-related activities in the Netherlands. During the day, the landscape of cancer support was explored and solutions were sketched by different groups of designers.

After hours of work and loads of coffee, the final results were inspiring. The resulting concepts varied from shared to-do lists for friends and family to a social game that helps teenagers feel like heroes, while battling their disease.

Health is obviously a very sensitive and complex issue. Throughout the day we saw some insights applied regarding User Experience and Health, which we like to share with you;

1. Empower the patient throughout the journey

Emotions and abilities of a patient differ throughout the different stages of a disease. It is insightful to map the entire journey which a patient goes through when dealing with a disease. During the day, Bartho Hengst of KWF showed a wide range of e-health initiatives that empower patients during their treatment process. Yet, is a severe sick patient still able to use these services? Customer journeys enable designers to build (online) platforms that will suit genuine needs and emotions per stage.

Insights on post-itsInsights on post-its

2. Focus on people, not only on patients

Obtain a broad understanding of your target group. While cancer is overwhelming, normal life goes on. You need to visit doctors, hospitals, undergo examinations, scans and in the meantime you may continue working, go out, see friends, etc. In healthcare much focus tends to be on the ‘patient’ side of life. However in order to deliver really meaningful services, design should also look at and incorporate the ‘normal’ side of life. This information is vital for developing better health services. Personas provide a powerful method to transfer such knowledge to designers.

3. Think in health ecosystems

Involve existing social networks in providing health solutions. It is very likely you know someone in your surrounding with serious health problems. How can you easily help and assist this person? This might range from providing care to someone close to giving a ride to the hospital. Everyone can play a role in healthcare support. This is an important perspective when thinking about the rising costs of healthcare. Being patient centered is already a good starting point (e.g. PatientsLikeMe). Engaging social networks directly surrounding the patient, provides even more opportunities to lower costs in healthcare.

Photo by Yohan CreemersPhoto by Yohan Creemers

You can watch the final presentations on the YouTube channel of the Amsterdam Design Jam. There is also a nice post on Johnny Holland about this event.

We would like to thank the people of the Design Jam Amsterdam and the people of the KWF for putting together this inspiring event. Also big thanks to the designers who participated in the Design Jam. We continue to work on many user-centered health initiatives and hope many of you will do the same.

Any questions or need help with your initiative? Feel free to contact us.