Alex Fu: Prototyping, Digital Mockup Creation, Usability Test Notetaker
Anne Pham: User Research Facilitator, Usability Test Facilitator, Digital Mockup Creation, Sketching
Chris Yuen: Digital Mockup Creator, Usability Test Notetaker
Sophia Hwang: Prototyping, Sketching, Digital Mockup Creation, User Research Notetaker, Usability Test Notetaker
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to persist or rise in various areas of the United States, nurses working on the frontline are at high risk of experiencing struggles with mental health. As workers who directly interact with patients, nurses face specific challenges in their job that prevent them from feeling mentally well enough to care for patients to the best of their ability. Despite the large amount of responsibilities they carry at work, nurses themselves feel like they do not have adequate emotional support. From our research, we have found that nurses tend to rely on close friends and family as their primary pillars of emotional support, but face barriers when their loved ones are unable to fully relate to their struggles in health care. However, many nurses also struggle to rely on their coworkers, those who can most relate to their struggles, for support. We have also found that many hospitals do not provide adequate support and resources that are considerate to their nurses, making it hard for nurses to find and schedule with therapists even when they may need it.
There is a need for a strong support system for nurses as they face the uncertainty of the pandemic, on top of the stressors that are already associated with their duties. Our proposed solution is a chat based mobile app, CareTalk, designed to help nurses navigate the stressors and obstacles of working during COVID-19. Similar to a “chat roulette”, users will be anonymously matched with other nurses based on state location where they can share worries or simply check in with each other, with an option to save a contact to keep talking with a matched nurse in the long term. In addition, nurses will be able to schedule an appointment with mental health professionals at any time. We hope that our app can help strengthen the support systems for nurses by providing them with a supportive community of other nurses, while also providing an easy, painless way to get access to therapists.
Paper Prototype, Testing & Results
We first made our paper prototype with interchangeable bits of paper to allow us to change screens and try out new designs quickly. We then put our prototype on the Marvel application and had users test our paper prototype, framed within a makeshift phone, on a computer using mouse clicks to simulate finger taps. The participants would be given a brief introduction and summary to our app and prototype and then would be let loose on the prototype, prompted with the first task (chat with a nurse) and asked to speak their thoughts out loud. After successful completion of the first task, they were then prompted to try to complete the second task (make an appointment with a therapist). At the end, they’d be asked for any additional feedback or things they noticed during their testing.
Overall, our feedback was mostly positive though we also received some unexpected feedback: we had inconsistencies between icons that had been overlooked which ended up causing confusion among our testers and one user mentioned that our therapist scheduling process might be a hassle for more experienced users. This helped us focus and revise our prototype with special care taken towards consistency, clarity, and streamlining the scheduling process for experienced users. We added additional emphasis to make it clearer when elements were selected and added text under our navigation bar to make the icons less confusing. Additionally, we improved the therapist scheduling interface to make it easier for new users to search for therapists and filter through them while allowing returning users a way to speed up the process by providing them with a list of their past therapists.
A link to our final digital mockup:
We kept the overall design of our paper prototype and mostly chose a color palette and used similar UI kits to get the design of the digital mockup. We wanted to go for soft blues as our main colors because blue is often seen as a calming and “trustworthy” color. We chose green for our accent color because its color psychology is similar and it gave our app a “softer” look, as opposed to other harsher colors. To further avoid harsh contrasts, we opted for a very dark green-grey for the font rather than a solid black color. After receiving feedback on our preliminary mockup, we changed our main color to a more muted teal color to avoid overwhelming the user, and also edited several of our colors throughout the UI to make teal our primary color with accents of blue, purple, or pink depending on the specific feature. Another design choice we made was rounding the corners of any buttons or drop-down selectors, since rounded corners are easier on the eyes. Additionally, we have some grid layout with the buttons and rounded corners perform even better because its distinguishable edges on the corners guide our eyes towards recognizing the visual differences. Rounded corners also give our app a more “modern” aesthetic overall.
Task 1: Talk about stressors and mental health concerns with other nurses
A main feature of our app is the ability to talk to other nurses, allowing nurses to converse with individuals that can better relate to the issues that they face. Choosing to chat anonymously with a nurse brings you to a screen allowing you to choose topics that you want to talk about in your conversation. After choosing your preferences, you get matched with an anonymous nurse and have the choice of either randomizing your match again, or choosing to chat with the selected nurse.
Once chatting, you have the option to save the contact, end the chat, or get matched again with the same chosen topics.
Any previously saved contacts can then be accessed in the “Saved Contacts” tab of the chat screen.
Task 2: Schedule an appointment with a mental health counselor at any time easily
If the user wants to schedule an appointment with a professional therapist, they have the opportunity to do so through our app. You can click the ‘Schedule Appointment’ button, which allows you to input some filters of issues you’re facing, along with providing suggestions of some therapists that the user may like. You can also click on the therapist to get more specific information. Once happy with the therapist chosen, the user will select it. We wanted to focus on convenience and ease of use for nurses who may be extremely busy and stressed out, so CareTalk will partner with our listed therapists to help handle and deal with some of the more complicated logistics so that users of our app will be able to schedule and talk with them through our app easily.
After selecting the therapist, the user will be prompted to choose a date and time to make the appointment. Clicking on a date will show the available times.
Once you book an appointment, you can confirm it and have the option to export it to your personal calendar or return to home where you can see it pinned to the home screen. Our application streamlines the booking process to make it extremely easy.
Our focus is to provide as much support for nurses as we can to lessen their hefty burdens. We recognize that the amount of hard work that goes into their jobs has been especially heightened during this global pandemic. The high amounts of stress and burnout inherent to the hospital setting and exponentiated by the pandemic combined with lacking mental health resources and support systems leave nurses needing support within a system that doesn’t always seem to care. We hope for our app design to help lessen the burden by providing additional avenues of support for nurses and making it convenient and easy to talk to a therapist when it is needed. We need our nurses to be supported and happy so that they can continue doing great things for the world.