Comba for Psoriasis
A smart connected system with regular monitoring and controlling of Scalp Psoriasis for a healthier tomorrow.
My goal was to determine how can technology be integrated into people’s lives to help them and their caregivers better manage chronic conditions. I picked Scalp Psoriasis as the chronic condition and tried to design an integrated ecology that evolve with users while maintaining their sense of control. I constantly weighed the trade-offs between automation and control.
Research- primary and secondary, synthesis + insights, ideation, wireframing and prototyping,
visual design and system design.
The statistics are frightening.
More than 125 million people worldwide suffer from Scalp psoriasis & it has massive socio and psychological impact on the affected.
My mother suffers from this chronic disease. So the challenge was to dive deeper and understand ecology of its wellbeing.
I observed the psychological impact of this condition on people. And more research led to the following attributes of the condition-
How might we facilitate regular updates on the condition & easy application of topical drugs to deduce efforts from the patient?
Meet Comba, a scalp scanning system to identify & monitor psoriasis affected areas to help the patient verify severity of the condition.
Its connected system facilitates in application of topical drugs throughout the scalp to control the spread of the condition.
The simple and easy to connect the comb scanner helps the new user to quickly get acquainted with how Comba is connected.
Monitoring the patient's condition
An accelerometer enabled device, Comba scans the scalp identifying new affected areas, alerting the patient of the spread of the Psoriasis.
Controlling the condition
Now the affected areas identified by Comba can be treated with the use of the topical drugs prescribed by the doctor. The patient can also view the application of the drug in real time through the digital app.
Optimizing the experience
With time, Comba personalizes the experience based on patient’s needs to improve its performance. Being regular user, the patient can schedule and view activity of the day through the app.
The patient will also get her complete summary of identified affected areas and track reports that can be sent to the doctor through Comba.
My vision was to create a collaborative cloud connected environment that allowed Psoriasis patients to monitor and control their condition.
With the database at the heart, I envisioned an evidence-based review and prescription update system that allowed the care giver's system to learn more about the status of the condition.
Deep in literature
For a more holistic understanding of the wider challenges faced by scalp psoriasis patients, I spent a lot of time buried in the academic research and literature. My research unexpectedly revealed that Scalp psoriasis patients felt the need of an experience that facilitates easy application of topical drugs to reduce their efforts as well.
To access the details of Scalp Psoriasis, I ran qualitative interviews with patients and doctors, the main actors of the system. This allowed me to quickly understand the day-to-day challenges of them.
With the findings, I was able to define the usage and attitudes of the patient and doctors towards the condition and its immediate systems.
Mrs. Saha, patient
Now with Arteritis, I cant even apply the ointment at the back of my head.
Its embarassing and I can even wear black anymore!
Dr. Kumud Ranjan, specialist
Most of my psoriasis patients have undergone counselling session to improve self esteem
A day in the life of a mild psoriasis affected patient.
Patients need more than just information about their condition
Insights from my discovery work indicated many areas where a cloud-based solution could help to improve the day-to-day lives of Scalp Psoriasis patients.
I discovered that whilst tracking condition information was essential, it was only one dimension in providing effective care for clients. If I truly wanted to make a difference to the lives of the patients, I needed to provide a more effective solution that considered our patients needs relating to:
support with the application of topical drug process.
connected system to enable quick check by the doctors - an integral part of the care giving network.
My research highlighted that it was critical for my design to be pragmatic and sensitive to the micro behaviour system of the patient with the condition. These insights began pointing to a connected complete cloud-based solution with database at the core. So I decided to focus on the below 4 aspects under treatment.
Thinking beyond digital screens
Although the requirement for the assignment was to create a connected digital system for the patient's ecosystem, I discovered that there was not an effective design intervention outside, digital screen for the application of the topical drugs.
My research highlighted that it was critical for my design to be holistic and familiar to the ways patients behave around the condition.
A comb was used as a supplementary accessory to provide relief for the patient. So I started to design a comb which had:
a scanner to document the status of the condition
included a medicine application feature to provide relief
better clinical documentation for the caregiver's system
Designing a solution map
Before starting any design, I spent a great deal of time making sense of workflows and existing content. This involved a tonne of task analysis and card sorting work.
I faced particular challenges with labelling and terminology as I found that language varied between the medical world and the patients. Mapping out the workflows was also challenging as caregiving involves many different touch‑points with many different people.
A solution model of my design intervention with its main features based on the needs.
Instead of wireframing first, I opted to sketch my designs on paper. I used paper prototyping techniques to bring the designs to life and evaluate them with the patients. This helped me work rapidly and led me to consider more ideas. Sketching many concepts helped me form a broader view of the system earlier ensuring a more cohesive design.
Hi fidelity mockups
To move forward with the design I used Adobe XD and Photoshop to create sets of detailed mockups. This approach was beneficial in presenting the main interactive screens, since I had already designed the conceptual model of the solution.
Screens for setting schedules for drug application
Screens for setting schedules for drug application
It was critical for my design to be pragmatic and sensitive to the micro behaviour system of the patient with the condition. I created models of every aspect of the condition- starting from symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and the caregiving system. This provided a thorough detailed understanding of the condition and its relationship with the patient.
Click here to view the ecology in detail.
Design is always a work in progress and carries the power of evolution with validation and testing. But before that there are many pressing questions that we need to ask as designers when trying to find a true solution.
This solution is just a beginning and I have already established a detailed structure of every aspect of the chronic disease. As I look back at it, I start asking myself various questions including the inclusivity of the design intervention. With continuous iteration, I am confident to solve many such questions that I have regarding Comba.
Currently at beta
At the moment, I have not rolled out the updated experience to enough users to gather statistical significance to validate the success of the new design. However, I am continuing to get feedback from patients and iterate on the designs to improve the user experience. So far, I've noticed positive changes and feedback in the following:
Improved monitoring of Psoriasis
Regular update on Psoriasis treatments.
Initiate execution with a conceptual model
Thanks to Professor Dubberly, I was introduced to the concept of conceptual model. It is important to gather functional requirements of a design intervention from the perspective of the patient or customer and a conceptual model is the best way to represent it systematically. This is that missed step that I learnt and helped me analyze the system holistically. It led to many of the decisions that matter for Comba to be a better product.