People who have just had outpatient surgery are sent home without much follow-up care and lack the medical supervision they would receive while in the hospital. Many issues come up after an operation, and patients are routinely left on their own with questions, concerns, and limited access to their doctors. Through our user research, we have found that patients encounter a lot of confusion around the specifics of post-operative instructions, wound healing, and the next steps they need to take to ensure a speedy recovery from surgery.
PostCare aims to create a single location where surgery patients can easily access their post-operative instructions, message with their provider, and easily track their healing progress along an appropriate timeline. Through a comprehensive treatment plan and a line of communication with the provider, we strive to empower patients to take their long-term health into their own hands, feel confident in their healing journey, and achieve the best possible results.
How might we make it easier for patients to recover from surgery at home?
People who have had out-patient surgery often need more comprehensive post-op care than they are given by their healthcare providers. Healing from surgery can take weeks, months, and in some cases, years. As a patient recovering at home, it can be hard to determine a serious complication versus the ups and downs of the normal healing process. Surgeons’ time is very limited, and providers may not have the resources to give patients the post-op attention they deserve. Additionally, there are other ways to assist recovery that are not performed by a doctor - such as a healthy diet, exercise, lymphatic massage, and oxygen therapy - just to name a few.
In 2019, there were 11.9 million outpatient surgical procedures performed in the US. In fact, over 70% of surgeries performed in the US occur in the outpatient (ambulatory) setting, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Surgical procedures are on the rise, with hospital stays shrinking due to limited hospital resources and the high costs of hospital stays.
With so many people having procedures and returning home with minimal guidance, it can be very confusing for patients to know what to do and when to do it, without waiting for a follow-up appointment to see their doctor again. So, we wanted to investigate: How might we improve the recovery process after being sent home from the hospital? How might we empower patients to take their long-term recovery into their own hands, while ensuring they follow the guidance of their doctor?
User Pain Points
After gathering some information via surveys and interviews with people who recently had surgery, we found:
- 59% of patients only received verbal post-op instructions from their doctor
- Many of these patients struggled to remember what they were told to do
- Some patients reported they were given instructions while still under the effects of anesthesia
- Only 44% of users said their doctor was available to answer questions after the procedure
- Only 25% of patients were given an exercise or diet plan recommended by their doctor
Our preliminary user research with surgical patients found that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to post-op recovery. Many of our users had questions after the procedure and experienced difficulty or delay with getting answers from providers, and they often felt they were on their own.
Based on the user’s pain points, we knew we wanted to work on the following features:
- A Dashboard with access to post-op instructions and provider information
- A To-Do list of next steps for the patient, organized by days, weeks and months
- Secure messaging with doctor & ability to upload pictures for doctor review
- Guidelines for the recovery process along a timeline to help patients plan their schedules accordingly
Lofi & Hifi Mockups
Iterative Design Learnings
After we showcased our prototype to the users, we learned that there were particular user experiences that weren’t as optimized. Learned that we need to test early on in the design process so they can be addressed before finalizing the design & going through development. Low-fidelity prototypes helped as they were quick and easy ways to experiment different design ideas and also to refine the finished Hifi product designs in the case of redesign changes.
One of the primary tenets of iterative design learning is that feedback is essential. Applying real user feedback to improve the design can help to ensure that the final product meets the needs of its intended audience.
Overall, iterative design is an ongoing process that involves continuous testing, feedback, and refinement. By staying user-centric, prioritizing usability and user experience, iterating frequently, collaborating with the team, and making trade-offs, is how you create a successful product.
Where is it hosted?
- The backend is hosted on Namecheap, a web hosting platform that provides a reliable and secure hosting solution that offers fast performance, and daily backups. It is hosted on a virtual private server (VPS), which offers dedicated resources and better security than shared hosting. The VPS runs on the latest version of Ubuntu and is set up with an Apache web server, MySQL database, and PHP. Overall, Namecheap provides a professional and cost-effective hosting solution for the backend app
What is your tech stack?
- Meanwhile, Tailwind CSS is a utility-focused CSS framework that provides a comprehensive set of pre-designed CSS classes for constructing custom designs with ease. It has a low-level API for styling, allowing developers to create intricate designs with minimal custom CSS, making it easier to implement and maintain a consistent design language.
- Additionally, the front end is designed as a Progressive Web App (PWA) with a responsive and mobile-friendly user interface, ensuring that the app is accessible and usable on a variety of devices and screen sizes.
- PostCare’s backend is developed with Laravel and MySQL.
- Laravel is a popular open-source PHP web application framework that offers robust features for web development coupled with the ability to handle complex data relationships. It is also known for its ease of use, scalability, and elegant syntax, making it a popular choice for building web applications.
- MySQL is a widely used open-source relational database management system that is known for its scalability, reliability, and performance.
High level journey of a request
- The high-level journey of a request in the web app starts with the user accessing the front end, which is built using React and Tailwind CSS. The user interface is designed to be responsive and mobile-friendly, providing an optimal experience across a range of devices and screen sizes.
- When the user makes a request, it is processed by the back-end, which is hosted on Namecheap.com. The backend retrieves the necessary data and returns a response to the front end.
- Once the request is processed, the response is displayed on the front end and any necessary updates are made to the user interface. The journey ends with the user receiving a seamless and personalized experience, making it easy for them to access the information and functionality they need.
What was the hardest part of development? Backend - Scalability
Does your app have any scaling issues?
What are some key takeaways? As a backend developer, here are some key takeaways I do consider:
- Focus on scalability,
- Plan for future integration,
- Preparation for maintenance
- Prioritizing security
If time allows and the team decides to further develop the product, we aim to enhance its functionality by introducing several new features. One such feature is the ability for patients to schedule video appointments with their doctor or provider directly through the app. Additionally, even though our product is a web app, it has the appearance of a native mobile application, so we plan to include notifications to keep patients informed of upcoming appointments, tasks, and other relevant information.
Product Manager Learnings:
In the course of these 8 weeks, I learned the hard lesson that there will never be “enough” time! There will always be more research to do, more people to interview, and more insights to gather. The advantage of a hard timeline is that it forces you to move quickly through the research and ideation process, so you can validate assumptions early on and gain perspective on which direction to take. And that direction may not align with your initial assumption!
The idea for PostCare went in a different direction when I began to work with this talented group of designer/developers and we were able to conceptualize an idea from 0 to 1. In building out the site, we listened to each other, compromised where necessary, shared experiences, prioritized goals and were able to come together on a singular product vision. I am so grateful to have had a team that came ready with ideas, excitement and a commitment to a functional final product.
Finally, the supportive nature of the Co.Lab community was really encouraging, and gave me the tools and confidence to step into a problem space that is massive, daunting & complex. Anything is possible if you are willing to take baby steps in the right direction, have a clear process, and the valuable support and feedback of a community of curious minds.
As a product designer, participating in this cohort program was a truly enriching experience. During the program, I had the opportunity to work alongside a diverse group of professionals from various backgrounds, who brought their unique perspectives and experiences to the table. Through group discussions and collaboration, I learned about various design methodologies, user-centered design practices, and the importance of empathy in design. I also gained hands-on experience in prototyping and user testing, which helped me to better understand the design process and the importance of iterating and refining one's ideas. My teammates provided a supportive and encouraging environment, where I felt comfortable asking questions and seeking feedback. Overall, the CoLab program was a valuable investment in my personal and professional growth as a product designer.
As a developer, this project has provided numerous opportunities for growth and learning. I have had the privilege of working with a diverse team, which has given me a unique perspective on the project and its workflow. Through this experience, I have gained a deeper understanding of web technologies, as well as the product and software development life cycle.
Furthermore, this project has emphasized the value of teamwork, communication, and adaptability. Collaboration has taught me the importance of working effectively with others, as well as the ability to adjust to changing circumstances. Overall, I am grateful for this experience and the many skills I have gained from it.
David Chibueze Ndubuisi
Full Team Learning
- Communication skills: As a backend developer, one of the key learnings from working in a cross-functional team is the importance of strong communication skills. I have learned how to effectively communicate technical concepts to non-technical team members, and vice versa, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. I believe this skill will be valuable in future projects and will help to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical team members, leading to more successful collaboration and outcomes.
- Exposure to different perspectives: Working in a cross-functional team has broadened my perspective and deepened my understanding of the product's user experience and business objectives. It has challenged my assumptions and enabled me to find creative solutions to complex problems, enhancing my skills as a backend developer.
- Collaboration Skills: I learned how to work effectively with others to find creative solutions to complex problems, which was a valuable skill that I can apply to future projects. This experience taught me the importance of open communication, flexibility, and a willingness to consider different perspectives in order to deliver the best results.
- Awareness of Interdependencies: Working in a cross-functional team helped me gain a deeper understanding of the interdependencies between different components of the product. This awareness has allowed me to make more informed decisions about the backend and ensure that it is well integrated with other parts of the product, contributing to the overall success of the project.
- Adaptability: The fast-paced and dynamic nature of cross-functional teams requires the ability to adjust quickly to changing requirements and shifting priorities. This has taught me to be flexible and proactive in responding to changes, which has helped me to become a more effective team player and a more valuable contributor to the success of our product.