Cherry Vong
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UX & UI Designer, Lead User Researcher


Doctors do not know the day-to-day progression of individuals living with dementia. Doctors only have a snapshot of the condition when the patient goes to do a checkup and primary caregivers may not be in the city to maintain a close watch on their patient. Dementia patients value their independence in the community, but when caregivers are far away, it is hard to know when issues arise or symptoms worsen.



How might we support doctors by detecting early signs of dementia for a patient?


This project was created for DementiaHack, a 30-hour hackathon presented by Facebook and Hackernest. The challenge presented was to create hardware and software solutions for those living with dementia and for their dedicated caregivers. Our end result is a mobile app that acts as a caring support system assisting doctors and people with detecting early signs and symptoms of dementia and “filling in the gaps” between checkups.




— User Research

Before the hackathon event, I conducted user interviews with personal support workers and caregivers who have direct contact with patients living with dementia. Personally, I do not know anything about the topic of dementia, so I needed to gather research, insight, and empathize with the people who cared for dementia patients so I could design for a solution that best fits our target users’ needs. I wanted to get more information and understand what problems dementia patients go through on a daily basis. I interviewed a personal support worker who cared for patients with dementia and documented habits and lifestyles of both caregivers and patients. I had also contacted some mentors who were researchers and asked for some of the problems they had with collecting data from dementia patients. 

— User Groups / Personas

We decided to create a solution on mobile as from the user journey had showed that the user is outside of their home a majority of the time when they have dementia. From our mentors and the user interviews, we realized that usually people with dementia will have changes in the following categories: Caregiver, Dementia Client, and Doctor.

— Research Synthesis

After gathering user research and defining user groups, I found a core problem within the three user groups — there is a somewhat bent and broken link between data passed between dementia patients and doctors while there is not a huge link between caregivers and doctors. 

The most alarming information I found was that the patients only get checked up two times a year from their doctors through the MMSE — Mini-Mental State Examination. This progress check up is not enough for dementia patients. There is not enough data from the dementia patients for the doctors to monitor their progress. There must be a better way to keep track of their progress!

— More Research

I shared this information with my team but we were still stuck on how to display the information and how to track the dementia patients. At the hackathon event, there were mentors who were caregivers for dementia patients, researchers, and clinicians. I did some more interviews and research at the event and found there were some key indicators of dementia change and being able to collect these would be very beneficial for doctors. Understanding the changes and progress of each will be super helpful for doctors between each doctor visit. They will be able to see the progress and make better informed medical decisions. It is also a better way than just having the “two times a year” MMSE checkup. 

Analyzing the MMSE further, I found a document that outlined the key indicators of the exam and broke them down. There were 15 categories. I narrowed down the key indicators to 5 that seemed to encompass the others evenly. Here is my thought process. 



— Digital Platform Decision

From the above user flow, our solution is for caregivers of dementia patients to record daily activities or changes in the five key indicators of dementia. The best platform for the solution is to create this is on an app. Information, changes and progress will be recorded through the app and sent to the patient’s doctor so that the progress can be tracked. The caregivers will have an account and see the content they have recorded for the dementia patient. The doctor will see the collective data from the caregiver or other public about the progress of the dementia patient so that there will be a better understanding about the dementia patient’s progress between doctor visits.

We decided to create an app because caregivers and a majority of the general public in North America have smart phones and use apps to record and document things. It is easily accessible and easy to use. Our target audience who will use the app (as mentioned in the personas above) are those who are familiar with using smart phones and find it easy to use apps that record daily activities. 

— Hardware Decision

We decided to work with Estimote beacons. One of the reasons why we chose to work with beacons is that this technology has not been used in the health field and we thought that through this hackathon, we would be able to see it’s potential to positively impact the industry. We also wanted to test a new hardware for our personal learning and incorporate it in our project. Other reasons for using a beacon is that they are inexpensive, they can show amounts of data and are relatively strong against hacking, shows proximity and location of where the beacon is without spilling privacy, and is compatible with smartphones. This is especially good for caregivers who care of more than one dementia patient — the beacons can emit their proximity and the caregivers will be able to record the activities of each patient without getting each patient mixed up. 

— Public Community Involvement

We decided that the public community can also record their observations in this app. The information that is displayed for the public will be limited (ex: it will not show the dementia patient’s profile) but the UI is relatively the same. They will be able to record the same things as caregivers who log into the app, but they will not be able to access the information they have sent previously. 

Beacons can hide the dementia patient’s profile and become ID numbers for the public and they can be detected and shown through the app which is emitted from the beacons the patients carry around. For caregivers, there will be a secure “sign in” system before showing the dementia patient’s simple profile. We decided to open this up for the public community so that they can also support the patients through recording changes in the key indicators of dementia and add to the patient’s dementia progress. This will especially help if the patient does not have a primary or secondary caregiver around them all the time and will support their independent living for longer. 

— User Flow + System Flow

From the user flow and data diagram, I placed markers of where the solution would come into play and how it would impact the users. 


— Wireframing

I considered different UI patterns for users to input and record dementia patient data. 

— Style Guide

Brand Colours


Blue: Calm, safety (patient data and privacy, security), intelligence, trust, confidence, beneficial to mind and body, piety, sincerity, tranquility

Purple: Independence, wisdom, dignity

Green: Renewal, growth, natural, balance, calm, harmony, stability, endurance

— Final Mockups

I created the high fidelity prototype on Illustrator and created a prototype on InVision.


— Prototype

I created the high fidelity prototype on Illustrator and created a prototype on InVision.