Designing an Accessible Gateway to Community Resources for Holistic Healthcare


Core human problem: People don’t have easy access to community healthcare resources.

Quality healthcare is more than just adequate medical treatment. Without maintaining a high standard of living (including housing, education and food), we cannot hope to achieve acceptable public health levels.

How we know it’s a problem: According to the 2014 United States Census Bureau, nearly 1 in 8 Americans (about 46.7 million people) are living in poverty, and still millions more are struggling to get by.

(Source: 2014 Census Report)

Our solution: Reach is an uber-accessible application that provides easy and intuitive access to community resources. It harnesses voice recognition and natural language processing for incredibly easy searching and learns from the user’s past data to provide a presonalized healthcare experience.


Here’s a real-life scenario: A set of parents notice that their child has developed asthma and discover the cause to be the growth of mold in the house. The parents are having trouble finding another affordable housing option, and this confounding factor ultimately impairs their child’s health.

According to the 2014 United States Census Bureau, nearly 1 in 8 Americans (about 46.7 million people) are living in poverty, and still millions more are struggling to get by.

(Source: 2014 Census Report)

Health Leads is a nonprofit that strives to improve accessibility to a wide variety of community resources (not only medical resources, but also others such as adult education, utilities, food, and housing). We partnered with them in an effort to advance the quality of healthcare for people in America.

Health Leads’ current model involves clients discussing their conditions with advocates in person. These advocates then recommend a solution to problems such as maintaining a healthy diet. Health Leads currently offers a web app for clients to digitally access their services as well.

Health Leads told us that a vast majority of their clients would be more comfortable accessing this service on a phone than on a desktop browser.

Hence, our goal is to improve on the web app’s experience by constructing a mobile version.

Design Process


To build a universally accessible mobile application to connect people with resources that provide holistic healthcare.



Voice-Driven Experience

Voice-Driven Experience

In an effort to cater to the widest possible audience, we began by looking for the simplest search experience we could implement.

Health Leads’ Web App had listings sorted by specific queries such as “I need help finding a job.” This categorization made for a logical jump to using NLP and we decided to build voice search as the primary app interaction.

After all, what’s simpler than just telling your phone your problems and automatically being directed to a solution.

Categorical Search

Categorical Search

Despite heavily leading the user towards voice search, we also wanted to allow manual search. We majorly streamlined the categories screen.

On the web app, subcategories were listed as long query sentences to provide intuitive understanding to users. Since we already do this with voice search, we could replace these with more concise subcategory labels.

Intelligent Search Results and Peer to Peer Feedback

Intelligent Search Results and Peer to Peer Feedback

For users who decide to create an account or ideally even come to Health Leads in person, the app uses biographical data from a sign up form, medical data Health Leads has access to and the users interactions and reviews with other listings on the app to quantify the “relevance” of a listing to the user.

We allow users to sort results for their queries by this relevance, as well as cost, proximity and overall rating across users.

We also added review functionality to increase the amount of user-generated information about listings.

Finally, we built in a dual save feature. If the user creates an account they can save listings directly to their profile, but for users that choose not to create one, clicking save saves the listing’s calling details directly to their phone’s contacts.

Personalized Suggestions and Direct Advocate Interaction

Personalized Suggestions and Direct Advocate Interaction

On the web app, the user needs to make an account to access the save functionality. Our save feature works without an account and so, the primary incentive for the user to create one is the vastly more personal experience offered by the app if they do.

The user will be prompted to create an account as soon as they save their first listing with a notification asking them to help the app serve them better by creating an account.

Quantifying relevance as mentioned in the previous section also allows us to offer personalized suggestions for the user in cases where there are obvious next steps to listings they’ve used.

For example, if someone accesses an adult education resource to pick up a new skill, the app will suggest resources that could help them find a job to utilize that skill.

Health Leads also emphasized direct interaction with their advocates and so, we built in a help chat feature that lets the user directly text the advocate on their case. They can also easily call up the advocate from the app.


What we would do if we had more time

Given more time on the project, our primary goal would be to design a comprehensive onboarding process to make the application’s interface even more accessible to less tech-savvy users.

We would also user test extensively across as large a demographic as possible to find edge cases and cover all our bases in designing for accessibility.