The University of British Columbia | What Matters App
App Development | iOS Development | Tablet | Healthcare
What Matters is a innovative mobile app that helps persons living with dementia feel comforted during times of distress.
This mobile app is a collaborative healthcare research project, where Raccoopack Media team worked with leading Canadian academic institutions to develop What Matters: a mobile application that improves the quality of dementia care for Canadians.
76,000 new dementia cases are diagnosed each year. With Canada’s ageing population and increasing prevalence of dementia, nurses and care workers are overworked and often struggle to keep up their desired level of care. There is a critical need to develop solutions to support staff while continuing to advance the quality of care for persons living with dementia.
A major domain that the research project explored is distress and comfort. Patients with dementia living in long term care or hospitals may face agitating or distressful moments at times. During such times, staff need to intervene. This posed a question and opportunity: How do we offer comfort to patients during these to improve the quality of care?
What Matters is a mobile app that offers comfort during times of distress using personalized media from the patient’s family, friends, and staff.
- Personalized media viewing: Residents/patients can view videos, photos, and music that is personalized and curated by family and staff.
- Resident directory: Staff can quickly find a resident’s profile.
- Resident profile: Each resident/patient has their own profile. Staff can view information about the resident, such as what brings them joy and their interests.
- Media liking: Residents/patients can like or dislike each piece of media. This helps staff understand the media that is relevant.
Co-Designing with the End Users
To design an application that is meaningful for the end-users, it is important to work closely with them during the design process.
During this step, Raccoopack Media worked with a number of leading academic institutions to codesign the mobile app with patient partners. This includes designing with hospital staff, patients living with dementia, and their family. We provided consulting on the technical aspects of the app, such as defining the main requirements of features, and providing guidance on the development process.
Along the way, we participated in a number of workshops facilitated by talented designers at Emily Carr to carefully understand the needs of the users. To adapt to the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, we leveraged online technologies such as Zoom to meet during these workshops.
Prototyping and Implementing Insights
After working together to create initial designs, the next step was prototyping. The Raccoopack Media development team produced a series of app prototypes in each sprint. Each prototype includes an increment of features, while incorporating feedback from the users.
This approach has the advantage of involving the end users during each step of the way. After each prototype was ready, user tests were performed, where both staff and patients had the opportunity to use the app together and provide feedback.
The user tests led to transformative outcomes to improve the design of the app. One notable insight we discovered was that some patients preferred to swipe to view videos or photos as opposed to tapping on a button. This change allowed us to create an experience that is accessible for all types of users.
From successful communication and collaborative efforts between Raccoopack Media and the project partners, the result was a prototype that received highly positive feedback:
- Staff observed a significantly higher rate of engagement with patients
- Staff rated it as very easy to navigate the app and select patient profiles
- Patients felt comforted by the personalized content from the app curated by family and staff
This is only the first step in the What Matters project! After a clinical trial phase and further study, the What Matters app will undergo further development for commercial use in hospital and long term care home settings.