Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys don't work as well as they should. It's a common condition often associated with getting older. It can affect anyone, but it's more common in people who are black or of south Asian origin (Source NHS). In fact, when we ColloghCares, we were shocked to discover that, according to the, more than 1 in 7 US adults, or 37 million people, are estimated to have CKD.
ColloghCares’s vision is to reach this underserved group with a digital coach that will help them keep their CKD in check and over time, expand this behavioral change program to help people avoid the disease altogether.
They aim to achieve this by pairing an application with fitness trackers as well as glucose and blood pressure monitors. The impacts of this can be massive, particularly in the US where people don’t have access to affordable healthcare, and around the world where CKD programs have adherence rates lower than 40%.
Pragmatics designed the user experience for the first launch of the application which is slated to be FDA approved. Our team got to work directly with CKD patients, medical experts and kidney disease advocacy groups. The final prototype has been instrumental in helping ColloghCares launch their application and get the funding they need to reach the patients who need it.
Working with patients as testers of the application can be a highly sensitive topic. Their privacy needs to be taken into account, and discussions of the topics can be sensitive as they don’t all have the means to get the treatment they need. Pragmatics and ColloghCares worked with medical experts, legal consultants, and advocacy groups to reach a group of patients who would support us throughout the development of the process.
We conducted interviews over video calls and harnessed insights from co-design sessions with the team of experts to build an early mockup of the application with basic interactivity. We used this to test it with patients and learned a lot about their existing habits, and how much they adhere to medical programs prescribed to them. These insights allowed us to iterate on our platform and present a final version to our panel of patients.
One of the key insights that emerged from working so closely with doctors and patients is that, as much as patients may need a coach, they already have their own systems that work for them. What’s needed for the best possible outcomes is for the application to provide gentle nudges and an overview on their health so that they can be in control of their treatment.
In response to this learning, we developed a unique “Daily” view that acts less like a sterile medical application, and more like a subtle To Do app. The intention is to give patients an idea of what they should do next and then empower them to take that step. Together with the data coming in from the tracker and monitors, patients would no longer need to go to the hospital to complete their CKD education programs, and can reduce the chance of renal failure.
Pragmatics’ ability to adapt to different contexts and appreciate the limits of both ColloghCares as a startup as well as the patients specific needs proved highly valuable in our ability to deliver a fully designed app in a short time frame. We combined existing best practices with innovative designs to enable ColloghCares to launch a beta of the app to be approved by the FDA and tested by patients for an extended period of time.