Opportunity: How can maps and data be brought together in a way that empowers Community Health Worker Program Managers working in-field to oversee and optimize their programs, but keeps the focus on actionable insights and remains patient-centric?
Summary: Collaborating in an agile environment with a team of three other designers and researchers, we were commissioned by Broad Street Maps to build a prototype mapping and analytics reporting tool designed around the needs of Community Health Program Managers working in-field with NGOs. We dived deep into researching a complex domain, and then designed, prototyped, and tested a web app that was favorably viewed by both usability test participants and our client. The project duration was 17 days.
Context: Our client, Broad Street Maps, is a mapping and analytics firm dedicated to the role geography plays in health issues. Until recently they have primarily focused on consulting, GIS analysis and map design projects for a variety of clients including NGOs as well as media publications. We worked with Broad Street Maps to research and develop a high-fidelity prototype for a new direction: a SAAS-based online tool designed to help Community Health Worker Program Managers.
Community Health Workers (or CHWs for short) are usually locals trained to bring basic medical care as well as resources and education to rural villages where the nearest medical clinic could be days away. The CHW model is a globally recognized for its effectiveness in improving access to healthcare in a sustainable way. The “train-the-trainer” philosophy used in most NGO CHW programs helps create livelihoods and educational opportunities to those committed to serving their communities. But CHW programs are a complicated mix of people and resources spread over wide geographies - and even the most progressive NGOs don’t have good ways to track their programs, especially in a proactive way. So how best to help the Program Managers overseeing CHW operations? We developed a solution that aims to solve key CHW PM reporting, data and map visualization pain points, without becoming an overly heavy enterprise-class solution.
Read on to see what we designed, and how we got there:
Based upon our domain and user research, and following the UX design process - we developed a web app that aims for a balance between powerful data analysis and ease of use. The site centers around a dashboard, with health programs focused on a main mapping screen with data and analysis panels, as well as admin and org functions required by NGOs dealing with patient-level data. We also discovered notifications were of great interest and potential value, so we designed a notification system tied into program goals and patient health data.
This project involved a heavy amount of domain research: both health-related NGOs and the CHW model itself required a great deal of investigation to become up to speed and conversant in a culture rife with acronyms and staffed with very, very busy and very, very smart people and teams.
Thankfully our client was exceedingly helpful in providing access to initial research materials that helped us get our heads into the space, the players, and the CHW model. From there we conducted competitive and comparative analysis as well as heuristic analysis on the key players in the space, and were fascinated to find the number of companies developing products for NGOs. We paid close attention to companies or products that tackled both mapping as well as data presentation.
Next we turned to Skype interviews with CHW PMs and those familiar with the space - our research took us all around the world: from Seattle to Washington D.C., to people working in rural communities in Thailand, Peru, Liberia, Togo and Rwanda. As this is a relatively niche space and our project required access to people with specific knowledge of the space, we focused our research on deep, high-quality interviews: our subjects were uniformly extremely intelligent and insanely knowledgeable and eager to speak with us about the challenges they face, most calls were about an hour. Audio recordings helped ensure we could review the deep material.
While the domain proved to be challenging to get up to speed on initially, our team pushed hard and by the end of the project we are all excited to see where Broad Street Maps takes things from here. The challenges of the CHW PMs became amazingly clear, we gained a ton of respect for these smart and driven people tackling big problems in challenging circumstances. We flagged a number of assumptions that will need to be delved into further and tested when possible - access to reliable electricity and high-speed internet access are fundamental challenges that will likely impact both development complexity as well as implementation feasability.
We are working with Broad Street Maps to help conduct further usability tests with CHW PMs in-field, as well as encouraging the use of more quantitative measurements to help validate some of the main assumptions.
We learned a great deal, and our clients were happy to get a dynamic prototype they could use to push their project to the next level.