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Clinical UX: Cancer Treatment

One day in the life of a cancer patient


The Story together with the Onkocafe Foundation


Gathering UX knowledge about cancer treatment.


A series of interviews, workshops and tests to establish how we can improve the patients experience.

Defining the problem

Cancer is a condition that in some way touches almost everyone. In Poland, there were more than 140,000 new cases of cancer in 2010. The numbers are still growing, and so are the problems of the group affected. Many have tried to address the issues related to the treatment process and information overload. All of the solutions, in our opinion, are in some way ineffective.

To try and find out how we can help cancer patients, we went on a journey of exploratory research. This is the story of the journey. 


There were several goals of the project. 
1. Exploration of the topic and building understanding with empathy.
2. Recognizing the biggest problems and most significant pain points during treatment.
3. Creating and testing solutions.


Our first step was understanding and building empathy, as we ourselves were not patients. The Story team conducted a series of interviews with specialists in the field of oncology, patients and psycho-oncologists, to build understanding of how life during treatment looks.
The results from interviews can be represented as such:

This is how the initial patient path emerged - the one on which the main problem is ignorance regarding information gathering and knowledge. This results from an excess of bad news, structural problems within the health care system, and the emotional impact of becoming aware of one's condition.

After the analysis of the interviews, we tried to dig deeper, into the overall contexts surrounding treatment and the emotional responses to each step. We invited specialists and former patients for a futher workshop session. During this meeting, we built detailed maps of patients' treatment journeys. We took into account such aspects as information, knowledge, and emotions. After the session, we looked for gaps and blank spaces in the experience - where patients encountered the most problems.


From this point our way forward was quite simple - we required solutions for the problems. By iterating on our initial models, we arrived at one that communicated just the right amount of solutions to our testers.

Anna Kupiecka and Adrianna Sobol, Onkocafe Foundation experts, help researchers learned about patients needs. 

For testing purposes, we contacted various patients at different stages of their treatment. With them, we went through the prototypes for solutions and found out what the biggest drawbacks and benefits were. To gather additional information, we also talked with patients about their needs and experiences. The principal issue, during testing was patients going off topic, to discuss their personal experiences. We used this additional background to place our tests in an appropriate context; one which would be closer to the lives of testers.

At the moment, we are moving on to build a solution, which will be publicly available, and we believe will help patients on their precarious and difficult paths.