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UPLIFT

A remote medical marijuana consultation service for senior patients suffering from chronic illnesses. Uplift helps reduce the on boarding process and guides them through the complex ecosystem of medical marijuana.

 

 RESEARCH / UX DESIGN / SERVICE DESIGN

 

 

 
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Role

A 15 week long project in collaboration with Alex Frankel, Azucena Roma and Janel Wong. While there were a lot of overlaps in our work, I took charge for conducting and synthesizing research, and designing wireframes for the service.

 

Problem Identification

Many seniors are turning to medical cannabis as a last resort, after they’ve exhausted traditional pharmaceutical options. In many cases these patients are in crisis, dealing with chronic illnesses and are on medications (including opioids) which have debilitating side effects, like lack of appetite, complete loss of energy, trouble sleeping, nausea. This combination of ailments and medications have obliterated their quality of life.

 

 

But as with any industry growing this fast, significant problems are starting to emerge.

Couple the myriad of strains offered with a lack of quality assistance available, seniors are left behind to educate themselves in unfamiliar territory while their health is on the line. The resulting trial and error process can last 4-6 months before a patient finds a consistent care plan, a period in which seniors feel overwhelmed and where one third even abandon the process altogether before they can experience the benefits of medical cannabis.

 
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Research

Since the medical marijuana industry is relatively new, it required us to have a thorough and in-depth research process.

  • Desk Research
  • Patient interviews
  • Expert interviews
  • Field research

 

Desk Research

We started off by conducting secondary research and understanding the sociological, scientific, technological and economical factors dominating the industry. 

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Interviews

We then moved on to carrying out various telephonic and in person interviews. To get an overview of the industry, we aggressively tried contacting people from different states. In this process we ended up talking to 3 budtenders from California and Colorado, 2 nurse practitioners from California, 8 patients from California and Colorado and 3 small business owners in California. All our interviews were recorded, scribed and then highlighted to draw insights.

 
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Field Research

We also drove down to Connecticut to meet with an oncologist and visit a medical marijuana dispensary. 

It was interesting to find out the stark difference in state of the industry in different states. While in Connecticut the dispensaries were professional and working with medical professionals to make sure patients get the best possible assistance, in California the patients are left on their own to figure out the right strains and consumption methods.

 
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Research Synthesis

To distill findings and develop insights from our research, we created a consumer journey, an affinity diagram and mapped out the key stakeholders. This helped us better understand the patients and the entire complex ecosystem of Medical Marijuana.

 Ecosystem Map

Ecosystem Map

 
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 Affinity Map: Synthesizing our interviews to draw insights

Affinity Map: Synthesizing our interviews to draw insights

 
 Current journey of a patient

Current journey of a patient

 

Key Problems

 Key problems with the current journey

Key problems with the current journey

Through our research we realized that in most states the onboarding process for medical marijuana is haphazard.

  • Doctors are not knowledgeable enough to tell the patient which strain of cannabis to use or how much cannabis to consume.
  • The patient has to rely on these hourly employees called budtenders (or patient consultants) that are responsible for suggesting a specific strain of cannabis, however in most states there is no mandatory training required to become a budtender.
  • Navigating this complex landscape without a knowledgeable and trusted advisor leads to an incredibly long trial and error process, delaying a patient from getting relief from a consistent cannabis routine.

We also realized that the senior patients were in need of medical assistance a lot more than the rest because they are usually on other pharmaceutical drugs as well and need someone to constantly help them understand the drug interactions and guide them through this fairly new industry.

 

Key Insights

  • Patients need a trusted medical advisor to navigate the complex medical marijuana system
  • Nurse Practitioners are willing to help and trusted but lack the knowledge to help out patients.
  • Medical marijuana was really expensive, people need a cheaper service to guide them through the process.
  • On boarding in the hardest part about using medical marijuana, the trial and error process sometimes lasts for 4-6 months. With medical help, trial and error process can be reduced to a month.
 

Ideation and Prototyping

We started with finalizing the salient attributes for this service. 

  • Consultation by medical professionals
  • Reduce trial and error process
  • Every case is different, the service needs to be personalized
 

We started designing our service keeping Larry Keeley’s 10 types of Innovation in mind. This made us think not only about the product we wanted to create but also how it work and engage with the consumers.

 10 types of innovation

10 types of innovation

 

First, we brainstormed all the important features that were needed for the app. This not only helped us understand the user flow and the information architecture needed but also raised a few questions that helped us design the service better. 

We designed low fidelity hand drawn wireframes. From these wireframes we developed an understanding of how to present information in ways that would allow seniors to connect with medical professionals as easily as possible. After that, we created the user interface for our design. We also made a clickable prototype in Marvel to study how users would flow throughout the app.

 

Solution

Uplift is a remote consultation service providing a way for patients to connect easily with quality medical professionals. It's a helping hand for seniors who are suffering alone and want to improve their quality of life.

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We also created a 5E Journey Map to analyze our service and tie any loose ends. We set goals for each section that helped us ideate on small touchpoint that can help us achieve them. For example: Spreading Uplift as a trustworthy service via doctors to Entice the user to try out this service. Also, having customer service after the trail and error period is over to give a sense of comfort to the patients.

 5E Map for Uplift

5E Map for Uplift

 

We realized that the biggest selling point of Uplift was the accessibility it would provide to the patients in need. Even though dispensaries are accessible as well, their quality of consultants is very poor and inconsistent. Our aim with this service was to combine the knowledge and consistency of a medical consultant with the accessibility of a medical marijuana(MMJ) dispensary.

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Testing

We then tested our prototype with a nurse practitioner and a patient. The feedback we got was invaluable. 

  • Patients would would like to pick a medical professional they trust on their own rather than being matched with one.
  • We had to devise a plan to incentives all our stakeholders. Eg. We found out that this service would help medical professionals document their patient's history and progress as well. Along with that, the data on successful strains and cannabis treatment plans for chronic illnesses, we think Doctors will be able to be more involved with their patients.
 Incentives for each stakeholder

Incentives for each stakeholder

 

What I learnt

  • Different design research techniques such as:
    • Creating a remote facilitator guide
    • Taking verbatim notes while interviewing
    • Following up with participants for feedback and testing
    • Onsite interviewing
  • Finding focus and direction in a broad research area
  • Synthesizing research using:
    • Affinity map
    • Ecosystem map
    • Customer journey map
  • Using 10 types of innovation technique to design a service