Asthma Monitoring and Management App (AMMA)
Asthma Monitoring and Management App (AMMA) is a new wearable tracking and monitoring device for asthma sufferers. Google.org has already developed the technology and is now seeking strategic and human-centered design.
Scope & Focus
Design a companion mobile app that allows asthma patients track their asthma without additional burden of disease management.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma affects 24 million children and adults in the US. (Source)
- Asthma accounts for 10.5 million hospital visits. (Source)
Role & Responsibilities
- User research
- Competitive research
- Product/UX strategy
- Interaction design
- UI design
- Pencil & paper
Constraints: Project was to be completed in 80 hours & 4 weeks.
User Research — Validating the Problem
There are two main users of this app: asthma patients and caregivers. I interviewed and sent surveys to asthma patients.
- When do you find that your asthma symptoms are least controlled?
- What is the most difficult aspect of asthma to track?
- How do you keep track of your medication?
- How do you track your triggers?
- How often do you have asthma attacks?
The majority of my responses came from people with mild cases of asthma and a narrow demographic. None of them knew their peak flow and took 1–2 medications for asthma. All considered their asthma to be well-controlled.
I did further research and found that specific demographics had higher rates of asthma and hospitalizations. Higher cases of asthma were likely to be found in boys 5–14 years old and women 18 and older. According to one report, patients may consider themselves to be well-controlled, however, they report more asthma exacerbations than what is considered to be normal for well-managed asthma. Another report concluded that patients exhibited lack of knowledge and conviction for therapy recommendations and guidelines. This conclusion aligns with the sentiment I sensed during the interviews.
 Sastre J, Fabbri LM, Price, D. Insights, attitudes, and perceptions about asthma and its treatment: a multinational survey of patients from Europe and Canada. World Allergy Organization Journal 2016. 9(13).
 Nathan RA, Thompson PJ, Price, D. Taking Aim at Asthma Around the World: Global Results of the Asthma Insight and Management Survey in the Asia-Pacific Region, Latin America, Europe, Canada, and the United States. JACI 2015. 3(5):734–742.e5
I examined two existing apps for strengths and weaknesses. One app was built for an asthma study and had specific features for use in the study. The other app was built by a doctor. It had good basic functionality, but also some hidden features that were not intuitive at first glance.
From the research, I determined two personas — one for the asthma patient and another for the caregiver.
Asthma Patient Goals
- Be aware of environmental triggers
- Control asthma
- Keep track of triggers, symptoms & medication
- Keep track of child’s symptoms and medications
- Be aware if certain days are worse than others
The goals of both these personas are ultimately asthma control. The difference being from which perspective the person is using the app.
UX Strategy Blueprint
My first idea had been to integrate a chatbot into the app with the goal of engaging the user. However, based on feedback, I decided to follow the same basis of other asthma apps, iterating and improving areas that I had felt were weaknesses.
From my research, I found that most users check the weather and environment for possible triggers such as pollen. For patients who have mild cases of asthma, simply checking the weather and pollen count would be a daily task for them. I decided to have these environmental factors be the main task for all users. Other tasks would be updating a daily diary of symptoms, triggers, and medication use.
During the wireframing process, I made additional changes to my original idea shown above in the sitemap. I decided instead of keeping symptoms and triggers as separate screens and key actions, I embedded them within a diary where the patient would have a holistic view of their management day-to-day.
Usability Testing in Invision
I conducted usability testing using Invision. The below were some issues identified with the app:
- Would be good to have back button at the top so don’t have to scroll all the way down for menu
- Is there an undo feature?
- Me vs. you? (word choice)
- Shorten onboarding
The Google Healthcare Initiative brand is friendly, innovative, memorable, intelligent, and reliable. I wanted to stick with a minimal look. This app is mainly to be used for its functionality more than its looks, however, I did not want to compromise on the visual aesthetics. Keeping in line with GHI’s brand, I chose a palette based around a blue to evoke a sense of fresh air and breath.
Taking into account the feedback I received from the usability tests, I designed the UI for each of the screens. I also incorporated a widget that would tell the user the weather and air quality.
With more time, I would have explored more in-depth the following:
- Different types of visualizations.
- User task of entering a new diary entry (still feels incomplete).
- How the patient would communicate with the doctor and/or emergency contact, and in which scenario this would be used.
- Medications — How will patients enter their medication? Will there be a backend database of all available medicines? Is there a way to link up their data with their local pharmacy to get automatic refills?
- Notifications — How can we notify the patient that they are not well-controlled? Since the AMMA device can track symptoms, how can this better inform the patient and their doctor regarding the treatment plan and medications being used? How else can we track if the inhalers are being used correctly?
I think there are so many more dimensions we can add to the AMMA platform. This can be a small but mighty tool for asthma patients to get real-time information on their symptoms & triggers as well as get a realistic view of how well they are managing their asthma.
Many thanks to my mentor Lauren Connolly.