This past Wednesday (9 Nov, 2011), we hosted a Meetup focused on usability and design considerations surrounding consumer healthcare sites and applications developed by start-ups in Chicago. At the session I heard good-natured comments about how violent a design teardown might be, and others spoke of it in terms of a dissection.

How did we select sites/apps for the design review?

We contacted participants of our Health 2.0 Start-up Pitch Contest with a request to volunteer their products for a public design critique. We had no idea how many companies would be willing to submit to this public critique, or would be comfortable with revealing work in progress particularly if they were in semi-stealth mode, or hadn’t completely settled on their business model. We received a lot of interest, which included requests from start-ups from other states. In the end, we had to establish some criteria to narrow down the options for this first design review. We evaluated the submissions based on:

  • maturity and stability of the product’s user interface
  • type of user group targeted — in this case, consumer healthcare
  • founders or decision-makers primarily from Chicago / Illinois

How was the review conducted?

I met separately with the founders of Leslie’s List and Human Practice and walked through their products. While there are numerous ways to conduct usability evaluations, many structured around a checklist-scoring based approach, I chose to focus on factors that form the fundamentals of design thinking, such as:
  • who their primary (target) users are
  • who the secondary (often unanticipated) users might be, and
  • the types of behaviors and outcomes they wanted to encourage when users interact with these products.

We also discussed their goals in terms of business models, and operational factors that would affect user expectations, because a balance often needs to be struck. It was quick and brief but we spent a few hours each talking through the behavioral goals as I offered suggestions surrounding user workflow and sketched some rough ideas, in some instances.

Design review for the meetup

In approaching the design review for the Meetup session, the presentation was organized into 3 parts:
  • a brief introduction surrounding the filter that I chose/used in reviewing consumer healthcare tools, including supporting demographic information
  • an illustration of the design intents surrounding Leslie’s List, and how one might approach design based on different business models
  • the readability and content strategy surrounding physician profile information in Human Practice, and the types of triggers and decision points that lead users to act in Human Practice’s social recommendations app

Presentation posted: UX Redux: Design Teardown of Consumer Healthcare Sites/Apps

Resources mentioned

The two start-ups we reviewed are:

  • Leslie’s List was founded by Dr. Leslie Ramirez and Jeff Bailey, to help patients and prescribers find affordable medications and healthcare services. They’ve been featured in the WSJ, Forbes, and NBC Nightly News.
  • Human Practice was founded by Moses Hohman and Dr. Sehjin Han, to help patients select their care provider by “meeting” them online first, via smart physician profiles. They’ve also just soft-launched their social recommendations tool for healthcare practitioner recommendations in the Chicagoland area, which uses Facebook as a platform.


These following are a few of the things that I consistently fangirl about in the consumer healthcare space. There are of course, many more resources that one can reference but I selected these as some basic must knows.


We hope to have sessions along the same vein in the future, focused on different user groups such as physician-facing tools, and on other platforms, such as mobile or device-based tools. I’ll also be curating a series of sessions focused on design and design-thinking in healthcare. Contact me if you have topic ideas and would like to present: @jasphua  or jasmin [at]


Jasmin Phua is co-organizer of the Chicago Health 2.0 / Tech Meetup group and user experience strategist with Design for Context, with a focus  on complex transactional applications and information-rich big data applications.

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