Creating a Senior Friendly Experience for Cancer Patients
Vinehealth takes great pride in ensuring our app is accessible to all, we are always working to improve by adding thoughtful features and designs. Twenty-seven percent of the Vinehealth user community are aged over the age of 55, broken into the mature working-age populations (55-64) and the over 65's population.
We understand that all ages can suffer from various health problems so we have ensured that our app is tailored to suit the needs of anyone who might suffer from poor vision, hearing problems, mobility or cognition issues - as we know how difficult and impactful managing health problems on top of cancer-related health effects can be.
Following widely accepted accessibility guidelines, we made sure:
To respect text and target sizes, so all elements are easy to read and interact with
To reduce cognitive load, so all the information is simple and clear
To use simple and meaningful graphics to assist in better understanding of information
To avoid hidden elements and present most relevant information first
To support recognition vs recollection and thus reduce the demand on working memory
To confirm irreversible actions
To respect colour contrasts
To avoid relying on colour only
Users with decreased abilities can perform a number of adjustments in their phone settings to make sure that they can access and navigate content within the app. These will seamlessly adjust the content display in the app. Such adjustments include abilities to:
Listen to the app using a screen reader
Navigate the app using speech recognition
Increase font size up without having the text spill off the screen
Use magnification from their phone settings to be able to enlarge content in the app
Use colour correction from their phone settings to make sure they can access content in the app
Use colour inversion from their phone settings to make sure they can access content in the app
Define how long they want to have a push notification message displayed for to take action
To validate effectiveness of accessibility of the app with older populations, we held over 20 face-to-face interviews and observations, collected feedback, as well as analysed app usage metrics by seniors vs other populations.
Holding interviews helped us understand what value the app brings to senior users:
What your app does is 1. Makes me want to come back to keep logging things so I can see trends; 2. Lets my oncologist understand what precisely has happened. 75+, M, Prostate cancer patient, weekly active user, Nov 2020–present
I complete [the Daily Log] each morning and evening, at the same time when I take my medications. I like to be organised and do most things [in the Daily Log and My Care]. I use all the facilities available including the link to the external Google Health monitor. 75+, M, Prostate cancer patient, daily active user, Feb 2020–Apr 2020
A number of users commented they were not comfortable with new technologies, and yet could and did regularly use the Vinehealth app:
I never downloaded an app on the phone before, the whole concept of how apps work was alien... [using the Vinehealth app] does help me with the feeling of coping, in a way it makes me focus on my daily plan... So I try to go for a walk twice a day and log it, and do general house work, and focus to log it later, and then I see it in the app which makes me feel good. 65-74, F, Lung cancer patient, daily active user, May 2020–Jan 2021
Sadly, I’m not the best with IT! But I use the appointment part and find that extremely useful. I also like to keep an eye on my fitness... I do need a bit of motivation! 55-64, F, Breast cancer patient, daily active user, Nov 2020–present
App usage analysis showed that mature users log and stick to logging medications, symptoms and well-being within the app more consistently than the age groups of 18-54. Namely, in the last 3 months, we observed the average of 82% of WAU retention in 55+ year olds comparing to avg. 65% of WAU retention in 18-54 year olds.
App stats analysis shows that the most popular activities among mature users are Logging medications and Logging symptoms. During the interviews, many confirmed that these features help them in everyday life to self-manage:
...I don't go to the doctor's worried now, because I know the truth, and the question would be what do we do to bring the symptom down - instead of her [the doctor] spending 20 minutes telling what's going wrong. 75+, M, Prostate cancer patient, weekly active user, Nov 2020–present
I’m finding it helpful to record my symptoms each day. It lets me look back and realise that the number and severity of my symptoms are decreasing each day. I love the sliding scale with the happy/sad face. 65-74, F, Uterine cancer patient, daily active user, May 2020–Aug 2020
We continuously collect user feedback via the Vinehealth support channel. In the tech industry, support channels usually generate complaints and negative feedback. However, the sentiment collected from the Vinehealth mature users via support has been also very positive:
Love the app 👍 55-64, M, Bone cancer patient, daily active user, Mar 2020–present
I use the app every day and find it very useful and reassuring. 65-74, M, Prostate cancer patient, daily active user, Feb 2020–present
I’m having my last treatment, so I won’t be using your app 🤞🏻, I won’t need to again. Thank you and your team for all your support & kindness. 55-64, F, Breast cancer patient, daily active user, May 2020–Dec 2020
So far, both qualitative and quantitative data suggest mature populations benefit from the app, find it easy to understand and supportive in their day-to-day life. This has proven that our iterative design approaches lead to the development of useful and usable applications for our end users, including users of older age groups.