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CaseTool

CaseTool

 

TL;DR (Summary): Working independently with a handful of caseworkers who support complex and chronically disadvantaged clients ("frequent flyers"), I am in the process of designing and refining a nimble app solution to help alleviate some acute pain points in their paper-driven process. 

Research and discovery revealed that caseworkers often juggle upwards of 30 clients at a time from home visits to doctor appointments to emergency calls; their ultimate goal is setting their clients on a path to independence and self sufficiency. A synthesis of the research findings revealed the need for a more efficient and effective way to update, access, and share their client’s information since this data is needed at a moments notice, and is often forgotten in-between client check-ins.

It was important to design a product that could be used under stressful, time-strapped situations, and didn't drown the user in features or unnecessary client info. It also had to be intuitive and industry-specific enough that it could easily fit in to their existing process (often defined at the organizational level). The resulting product iteration is a work in progress, but early feedback is overwhelmingly positive with several key insights regarding prioritized client data and clearer insight into edge cases and additional features for a product roadmap. 

Presently, CaseTool helps the user to stay on top of progress notes and basic client data. 

 

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Project Details

Client | Freelance (independent)

Role | Lead Designer: Researcher, Interaction Designer, Visual Designer

Tools Used | See more about my process as a designer >

  • Research: Interviews, Observation, Competitive Audit, Task Analysis, Industry Research
  • Synthesis: Empathy Map, User Journey Map, Pen and Paper
  • Product Strategy + Ideation: Whiteboard, Post-Its, HMWs, Site Map, LucidChart
  • Interaction Design + Testing: Pen + Paper, Task Flow, Sketch App, Marvel, LookBack
  • Delivery: Zeplin
 

Design Goals/Challenge

  • Create an MVP app solution for intensive care caseworkers that helps them help their clients achieve sustainable independence within 3 months.

  • Demonstrate with app usage, a decrease in ER visits for “frequent fliers” a major metric for intensive care programs.  

  • Identify, test, and validate a solution among target user segment following an iterative design process


Task: Create a reminder for Kara’s most recent client session (with Devon Myers) before preparing for the next client session with Jim Johnson.

 

The Problem

Underpaid and overworked, social caseworkers are further disadvantaged by outdated processes and tools in their line of work. Juggling upwards of 30 chronically disadvantaged clients ("frequent flyers") at a time, caseworkers are responsible for setting their clients on a path to independence and self sufficiency, with little help from tech. Their effectiveness in achieving this outcome often means the difference between being starved or flushed with funding. A lot of times, this funding comes directly from the very hospital systems that their holistic care solutions reduce an ER burden on, so it is in their best interest to make sure their cilents achieve.

While digital tools and softwares exist for case management, they're often geared towards larger, more well-funded organizations in the form as enterprise-level software - not the smaller-scale organizations that operate in a market like New Orleans whose funding is never guaranteed one year to the next. After spending some time with users who operate in the space, the need was obvious.

 

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Getting to Know the Problem: Research

For the discovery phase, I concentrated the bulk of my research on uncovering qualitative data in the form of user interviews. I supplemented these findings with secondary research, with specific focus on understanding the competitive landscape to assess any industry-specific compliances to consider.

 

Research Goals

  • Gain empathy and insight into the social caseworker experience: the frustrations, pain points, and motivations that exist throughout their day-to-day
  • Better understand the case management process (tools used, job responsibilities and expectations, legalities, daily activities)
  • Uncover the common barriers to success for caseworkers, their organizations, and their clients
  • Appreciate the complex web of relationships at play from an interpersonal level to a systemic level

Methods

  • Target User Interviews (8-10 users based on proto-persona)
  • Observation 
  • Task Analysis
  • Competitive Audit 
  • Health systems/ policy research
  • Local health services ecosystem review
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Armed with some pre-reserach, I constructed a protopersona to help recruit interviewees

Armed with some pre-reserach, I constructed a protopersona to help recruit interviewees

 

Understanding My User's User: The Frequent Flyer

Frequent fliers are those who frequently rely on the hospital system to alleviate chronic health issues (diabetes, COPD, slight mental health disorders). While they could be managed with a more holistic primary care solution (via community caregiver services), socioeconomic barriers make it difficult for them to do so. 

Characteristics:

  • Often uninsured (but qualifies for medicare/medicaid)
  • Visit the ER/Hospital multiple times a month (once a week on average)
  • Afflicted with chronic - but manageable - health issues
  • Often face additional wellness barriers beyond access to care, including homelessness, unemployment, and poverty
  • Has an “Obamaphone” (government-provided cell phone and plan that offers unlimited text but limited data and voice)
Cartoon Credit: Dr. Brian Goldman

Cartoon Credit: Dr. Brian Goldman

 

Synthesizing for Insights

 

After nine user interviews and dozens of Venmo articles, earnings reports, and competitive auditing, I began synthesizing my findings, capturing quotes, observations, facts and musings on post-its. 

 

Key Insights

 

From the synthesis exercise, I was able to  extract 3 points of tension, or insights, to help inform my persona's motivations, needs, and idiosyncrasies as they related to their case management experience. Most insights centered around contradictions, such as the idea that case manager's client information was always in flux (such as gaining health insurance status, changing addresses, updated medications, etc.), but the process to monitor and record this progress was confined to paper and filing cabinets.

 
 

Identifying the User + Her Needs

 

Primary Persona: Kara Myers

Armed with insights, I crafted my composite user, Kara. Overall, she needs more efficiency in her life. From the way she communicates with her clients to the way she updates, accesses and shares her clients' info. And while her goal is to help her clients achieve sustainable self-sufficiency through incremental net gains, she often doesn't feel like she can celebrate their successes as her own.  

 
 

Prioritizing Need based on Business/User Alignment

Growing impact via funding was the primary goal of Kara's organization (a composite itself of my interviewees' organizations.  At the core of sustained funding was the need to provide meaningful, measurable metrics that demonstrate the organization is achieving the outcomes required by state, federal, and private (grant) partners. Easily accessing and saving this type of information was also a primary need of Kara's, so I was able to prioritize design needs based on this and other key insights when comparing the two. 

 
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Finding a Solution

To guide my brainstorming and feature prioritization, I wrote my HMW's on a big whiteboard with a friend and tossed up a bunch of ideas. While I was looking for solutions to each individually, after completing the exercise it was clear that at the very least a solution may address both.

 
 
 

 

Interaction Design: From Paper to Prototype

In considering how this feature would integrate with the rest of the app, I developed several IxD artifacts to explore and understand possible user paths and entry points.  

 
 
 

Design Validation: Usability Testing 

Testing Process

With my medium-fidelity prototype added to the Marvel app, I conducted in-person and remote user testing (due to schedule complications) via Lookback.io.  

A total of 8 usability tests were conducted, 5 of whom were those interviewed earlier in the process. Each user was briefed on the project, and provided with a brief context to better empathize with our persona Kara.

Task: Create a reminder for Kara’s most recent client session (with Devon Myers) before preparing for the next client session with Jim Johnson.

To prepare for the session with Jim Johnson, complete the following sub-tasks:

  1. Review Jim’s profile and his info
  2. Print a copy of his medical history to take to the doctor
  3. Send the client a text reminding him about your rendevous point before the appointment
  4. Once “at the appointment” create a new progress note about the session

Tasks corresponded with key pain points and needs revealed during research.

Results

The response to the initial prototype was overwhelmingly positive. Feedback centered around the primary views of the experience: the home screen, and the client profile screens. The prioritization of information was updated to more accurately reflect the needs of the case manager. Insurance status, for instance, is a hugely important piece of data and seldom remembered from one client to the next. Similarly, income level is crucial to filling out government applications on behalf of the client. 

Usability testing also offered an early glimpse at further design and testing opportunities for the product roadmap.

User Testing
 

Visual Design

Knowing that Kara would be using this app multiple times throughout the day, and even typing prolonged messages, I wanted the design to be simple and easy on the eyes. 

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Hi-Fidelity Frames

 

 

Final Takeaways

CaseTool is a nimble app solution for Case Managers whose organizations are still encumbered by paper-driven systems. Often with only a few minutes to spare between client appointments, home visits, and doctor appointments, CaseTool helps the user to stay on top of progress notes and basic client data.

Simple and intuitive, CaseTool offers a more efficient and effective way to update, access, and share her client’s information. Built around her stressful workflow, CaseTool makes sure important actions and information are close at hand when she needs it most.  

 

...and Some Potential Features to explore in further iterations

 
  • Ability to create custom info fields (info relevant to refugee management vs. mental health)
  • Ability to tag client barriers within progress notes
  • Progress notes search capability
  • Eventual development of web-based counterpart