Improving Health Resources with Design


Navigating treatment options and outcomes is an overwhelming prospect for patients in need of a kidney transplant. An interdisciplinary collaboration between Professor Sauman Chu (Graphic Design), Professor Marilyn Bruin (Housing Studies), and Dr. Allyson Hart (University of Minnesota Medical School) will help patients better understand their options through the launch of a new informational website.

“We created this online decision aid to estimate a patient’s likely outcomes on the waitlist for a kidney transplant based on their wait region. By communicating options and outcomes, the tool helps patients understand the chance of being offered a transplant while waiting on the waitlist for three, five, and seven years,” explained Chu, who designed the website. “Patients who do not understand their likely outcomes may not complete the evaluation process, consider a living donation, or accept lower quality kidneys.”

The ultimate goal of the project was to create an easy to understand resource for kidney patients, which is why the team placed a heavy emphasis on user research. “Dr. Bruin served as a qualitative researcher and helped to design and conduct the preliminary focus group discussions,” said Chu. “In-depth interviews, focus groups, and one-on-one usability testing were conducted with 37 adult kidney transplant candidates in Minneapolis, in addition to two national focus groups of 13 transplant physicians and four national focus groups of 19 recipients.” The collaborators also conducted usability testing to examine the effectiveness and functionality of the navigation, as well as the relevancy, accuracy, and interpretative level of the content.

Chu credits the successful creation and launch of the website to the trust and transparency between both the researchers and the patients. “It has been quite a journey to complete the website, in particular when conducting the usability testing. Because of the 1-1 nature of the testing and the sensitive information of the website, some patients got quite emotional when they realized the outcome of their transplant and survival rate. However, all patients appreciated the transparency of the information. We are very proud of this tool and hope it helps patients make an informed decision,” concluded Chu.

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