Maternity Care Companion

NYU Langone Health Maternity Care Companion is an application helps provide guidance to birthing parents navigating the pregnancy process and also gives them a space to better communicate their personal needs and preferences.

This project was made in collaboration between the SVA Interaction Design MFA program and the FuturePractice Team at NYU Langone Health.

Year

Sept - Dec 2021

Project Type

UX Research, UI Design

Role

UI/UX Designer

Team

Allison Chiu, Suri Namkoung

Project Overview

Improving health outcomes for
Black birthing parents

Birthing parent: a more inclusive title describing any person who is currently undergoing or recently went through the pregnancy process

Watch a 2 minute video on our solution

NYU Langone Maternity Care Companion empowers Black birthing parents to take more control of their pregnancy process through providing them with ways to better prepare and educate themselves as well as more easily communicate their needs and preferences to healthcare providers.

Problem

Black birthing parents in the U.S. are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women in any other racial group. Our challenge was to see how we could leverage digital health technology to achieve more equitable health outcomes and experiences for Black birthing parents at NYU Langone Health.

Solution

Maternity Care companion allows users to express their preferences for their pregnancy, get personalized educational pregnancy resources, prepare for their hospital visits ahead of time, and get fast answers about their pregnancy-related questions using the in-app chat bot.

My Role/Responsibilities

Contributed to:
Interview Synthesis
Ideation
Wireframing
Interactive Prototyping
User Testing

Individual Responsibilities:
Initial user interviews
Determing the overall user flow
Creating the UI style guide
Designing: Onboarding, 'Your Plan' and 'Chat'
Communicating with Sponsors on project goals + progress

Discover

Identifying the root of the problem

We began our research by looking into different areas of potential causes of fatality during pregnancy in Black women including individuals' insurance status, level of prenatal care, healthcare provider bias/racism, access to healthcare, biological differences, and income levels.


We found that while a lot of them do have an impact on birthing outcomes, they aren’t enough to account for the large gap between Black birthing parents and individuals of other races.

So after a lot of research we determined that the main cause of the high mortality rate of Black birthing parents was racism in doctor attitudes towards patients.

secondary research focus

01

What support do Black birthing parents need during the maternity process?

02

Why are Black women rejecting hospitals in search of other options?

03

What kinds of expenses do birthing parents have to pay for?

04

What existing programs or technologies in the US are trying to solve this issue?

05

What does prenatal care look like in countries outside of the US?

06

What kinds of expenses do birthing parents have to pay for?

"Implicit racial biases by health care providers have been associated with less accurate diagnoses, curtailed treatment options and worse clinical outcomes for minority patients."


The New York Health Foundation

Research

Gaining insight & empathy

We met with 12 birthing parents to further identify pain points, frustrations, needs, and desires within the current hospital experience.


The following quotes are a very small snapshot of what we both heard and saw from the users we interviewed and also read about online. Stories are often not unique to one person and we saw a lot of common ground and pain points in all the experiences of the Black birthing parents we heard.

key takeaways

01

There is a strong fear of discrimination when Black birthing parents meet with white healthcare workers

02

Users place an emphasis on verbal care and communication, and often feel insulted by healthcare workers

03

Users want their care to be transparent, responsive, and easily accessible

04

Users often feel like they are not educated enough to speak up about their own care

05

Mental health and support is very important during the pregnancy process

06

Many users felt that they could not speak out about their negative experiences.

I conducted 8 out of the 12 interviews and led an interview synthesis session to identify different areas we could further explore.


We noticed during affinity mapping that there were a lot of patient feelings around being confused and unsupported by hospital staff.

Additional User Insights

We compared our primary and secondary research to further look into potential opportunity areas for our solution.

What we heard
What we know

01

Doctors often overlook signs of leading causes of complications and ignore patient concerns...

01

Most of these leading causes are preventable. Timing and when symptoms are discovered also play a large role in successful health outcomes.

02

Patients don't feel educated enough to speak up, and often just go along with what the doctor is saying even if they have doubts...

02

Hospitals have comprehensive informational resources, yet they are often not well organized and can be hard to find.

03

Doctors have limited availability and often only have a few minutes of face time with patients...

03

Patients appreciate face time with their doctors but are also willing to learn on their own time.

04

Patients want their doctor to know who they are even if they are assigned a different doctor at each visit...

04

Hospital file transfers don’t have any user’s information or input other than diagnosis from their previous doctor.

05

Black birthing parents often have choices pushed onto them, like taking pain killers when they are against taking them or having a c-section when they want a natural birth...

05

Doulas exist to help explain different options so they are prepared to make informed decisions during their pregnancy and labor.

Ideate

Creating a seamless experience

Ideation

To kick-off the design process, we conducted a brainstorm to come up with initial ideas for our solution.

Initial Concepts
1. Community groups for hospital patients
  • Patients join community forums based on their hospital division or cultural backgrounds
  • Patients discuss and share their thoughts on the maternity process and hospital offerings
  • Patients make their voices heard through gathering stories and common issues
  • Patients empower each other by finding common ground and supporting each other
2. Digital information guide for users to refer to when they’re requesting services or have specific concerns
  • Take a survey to determine your demographics and specific patient needs
  • Weekly guides containing information on what to expect at a certain stage and health tips/recommendations
  • Connect to appointment schedules, medical records and doctors notes, making sure you’re well covered and on track.
  • Patient keep a journal and document their symptoms with quick tools to help professionals keep track before the next session
3. A hospital sponsored Q&A forum
  • Reaching out to external hospital networks for additional support
  • Hire underutilized doctors and nurses that are trained in Obstetrics to help answer patient questions
  • Patients can chat with doctor/nurses to get their questions answered
  • Verified doctors and nurses respond to direct messages or answer forum questions/concerns
Validating concepts

We talked through our initial ideas with both users and our project sponsors to determine what direction to go in.

We ended up taking elements that people resonated with them most from each of our ideas. These included a way to create doctor-patient connection, the collection of patient demographics to customize experiences, and a way for patients to easily access medical records and educational materials.

Information Architecture

Low-Fidelity Prototypes

Using the feedback and insights gained from research, analysis and sketching, a low-fidelity prototype was created to begin user testing.

The following are screens from the Sign Up and My Plan flows that I put together.

User Testing

We also conducted user testing with two Black birthing parents and a healthcare provider at NYU Langone.

WHAT PEOPLE LIKED
01

Users liked how the platform not only gave them a place to express their preferences and make certain choices, but that it also educated them on how to make those decisions.

02

Our sponsors and the healthcare provider we met with liked the fact that this solution was geared towards patients and contained activities they could complete on their own, especially because doctors have such limited time.

03

Users liked how features like My Plan and Pre-Visit notes were consolidated into one application, along with their patient information and doctors notes. It made them feel more secure knowing both they and their doctor had access to all of the information.

Solution

A centralized platform to empower
Black birthing parents

The final solution aims to help Black birthing parents take more control of their pregnancy process through providing them with ways to better prepare and educate themselves as well as more easily communicate their needs and preferences to healthcare providers.

By giving users access to personalized reading materials and ways to get their needs expressed or questions easily answered outside of hospital visits, Maternity Care Companion helps users be prepared during the course of their pregnancy process, and also creates opportunity for in-person appointments to be more about doctor-patient understanding.

Express your preferences for pregnancy

In Your Plan, users can set different preferences for various aspects of their hospital visits and labor process.This mimics something that a doula would offer, including going through a birth plan and providing information about certain choices a birthing parent might need to make.

Express your preferences for pregnancy

In readings, patients have access to an organized library of materials that the hospital provides as well as additional articles and resources.It also draws on the demographic data that users input when signing up for the app to provide Black birthing parents with specific resources tailored to their background and related health conditions.

Get quick answers using the in-app chat bot

Because doctors often can’t have that much face-time with their patients, both doctors and Black birthing parents we talked to responded well to the concept of having certain information being communicated outside of hospital visits so each visit could focus on more important questions or diagnoses.

Fill out pre-visit notes

For previsit notes, patients have an opportunity to record any symptoms and questions for their doctors that can be reviewed at their next visit.With it sometimes being difficult to verbally express what they need, this also acts as an additional space for patients to communicate their needs and expectations to doctors

Problems Solved
01

Allows users to educate themselves about their pregnancy process

02

Provides a place for users to express their needs and preferences

03

Gives users access to their own information and knowledge that they healthcare provider does too

04

Helps users resolve basic questions outside of visits, allowing more time for more important topics at appointments

05

Gives patients reading materials that are tailored to them and their situation

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