Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Anna Iurchenko, the UX Designer at Stanfy about Transplant Hero
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
With this project, we had a very ambitious goal to help people take their medications on time. In fact, nearly half people do not take their medications as prescribed. It is called medical non-adherence.
Adherence is a key factor associated with the effectiveness of treatment and is particularly critical for medications prescribed for chronic conditions. Of all medication-related hospitalizations that occur in the United States, between 30% and 60% is the result of poor medication adherence.
Transplant Hero mobile application is focused on one particular group of people – transplant patients, people whose lives depend on their medication regimen. Such patients need to take immunosuppressant drugs that help prevent their immune systems from attacking the new organ. Typically, the drugs must be taken for the patients' lifetimes, at all hours of the day and night from two to four times a day. It creates a serious challenge for patients?—?research shows that around 15% patients die because they forget to take their pills!
So, we decided to build an app that will improve medical adherence and that will help transplant patients to create a habit of taking medication on time.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
Our users are the best source of ideas of what we should build next. By listening what they want and tracking lots of parameters in Flurry and Mixpanel analytics we understand which features will be the most desirable. Currently, we want to add an option to schedule medications to the particular week days and also adding a medicine count to the app so that users know when they need to reorder their next prescription.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
The most rewarding and exciting thing about Transplant Hero is its users! We are getting overwhelmingly positive feedback from people who love the app and it encourages us every day. I want to share with you several quotes from users' emails.
"Thank you for Transplant Hero. It has enabled my son to learn at a young age his meds and dose by sight and name and how to adhere to his medication schedule. He is confidently on the path to a happy and normal childhood and life. Thank you! "
"It makes taking meds not just another todo or reminder but special. I'm taking my meds exactly on time every day and haven't forgotten a dose since installing. I'm recommending it to all my transplant buddies."
"My 8-year old daughter is a kidney transplant patient. She loves this app! It's been a great tool for both her (taking responsibility for remembering her medications) and us as parents. And even her little brother who hears the music and starts yelling "It's med time!!!". Please keep up the GREAT work! I can't thank you enough for building this."
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
I found out that standard pills reminders app are extremely hard to use - they are generic and try to satisfy patients with the different condition by building monstrous interfaces. So I decided that Transplant Hero should be only about transplant patients and their special treatments. It anticipates the medications needs because lots of content are predefined.
The patient's life is changing dramatically for the better within several weeks after the surgery and they often treat the day of the surgery as their second birthday. So we decided that the application's visual language and style should emphasize the new, energetic patient's life, far away from a hospital.
So unlike other medication alarms, TH is bright, fun and make people smile!
So this insight brought us to idea create these super cool happy organs that user sees each time he or she logs in their medications!
The "secret sauce" of the Transplant Hero app is its gamification part. It "hooks" users and playfully help them to get used to keeping track of all of their medications. Gamification flow that we designed and validated through several studies involves the users in the game and challenges them to earn cool rewards towards eventually becoming a Transplant Super Hero!
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
After releasing the first version of the app, we found out that the majority of the patients don't religiously follow the doctor's prescriptions and prefer to customize their medications schedule. Other patients have specific needs to schedule medications every other day or have different dosages in the morning and evening time.
This feedback contradicts our research findings and the design principles that we defined for the app?—?that the app should do all the "heavy lifting" on scheduling medications. As such, it meant we needed to pivot and adjust to our user expectations.
At this point, we have released many updates of Transplant Hero that take into account lots of very specific needs of transplant patients and we continue to listen and to learn.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
All medications reminders that I found in AppStore served as anti-inspiration for me: they are generic and hard to use, boring and visually depressing. So from the very beginning, I know that Transplant Hero should be radically different from other apps with similar functionality.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
Always start your project from understanding your future users, their needs, and current behavior. It is not enough just discuss project within your team. You have to reach out to real people who you think will be your users and talk to them before you start working on the solution for them.
Start from diving deep into the problem space, conducting interviews with stakeholders and potential users, studying competitors. Once you collected all data try to make sense of what you have learned from the research, identify key themes and start looking for meaningful patterns, brainstorm solutions together with your team. And only after that start making your ideas tangible by creating prototypes and getting early feedback from future users.
Once you satisfied with what you have designed, move forward to the development stage.
Such design process allows you to avoid spending valuable resources on building unnecessary features.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
We started from iOS because we wanted to validate our initial assumptions first. Once we launched we learned that several design solutions should be modified to better satisfy users' expectations. Once we were happy with the feedback we scaled to Android.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
One of the first questions as a product designer I want to answer when I start working on the new project is “What is the best way to solve the problem that we have identified?". And the best way to answer this question is to understand people we are designing for, their needs and current behavior, the context in which they will use the product.
It means conducting user studies that involve potential users.
While working on Transplant Hero I conducted multiple user studies - interviews, observations, co-design sessions, surveys. The goal was to step into transplant patients' shoes, to understand their lives and solve problems from their perspectives.
Insights that were got from the users during the research phase allowed to create a unique product that is designed solely for transplant patients' needs and offers positive reinforcement for medication adherence.
You can view Transplant Hero here
For more information, visit: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/transplant-hero-alarm-system/id969039026?mt=8