Project Mist - Prosper

  • Role: UX/UI
  • Client: UnitedHealthcare

People that have chronic medical conditions get thrown into an absolute foreign land of trying to navigate their new diagnosis. It can be scary and there are many uncertainties. We wanted to design a tool to allow these patients to prosper.

Understanding The Current Call Experience

PHMI’s services must convince our members to adopt healthy behaviors that help reduce their medical expenses. Current analyses show that there is a connection between PHMI interventions and reduced medical expenses. However, margins are tightening, service delivery isn’t readily scalable, and member engagement is low. In addition, PHMI faces increasing competition in the marketplace from more robust services. Competitors offer more digital tools and omnichannel service deliveries that PHMI is unable to respond to in customer RFPs.

Project Goals


NiH is great, but I already Googled this. I want to know what information is relevant to me.


Our workflow is already complicated, so nothing should be added to it.


We need a digital experience to respond to RFPs.

Who We Spoke To

Problem Interviews: Over a period of two weeks, IRD interviewed nine people who had recently been diagnosed with a chronic life-changing disease. These 90-minute interviews were conducted inside the participants’ homes. Our team sought to understand how they experienced the diagnosis, how the disease changed the way they live, perceptions of their disease, previous attempts to change behavior, and how they approach goals and rewards.

Angela 47, Osteoarthritis
"I started taking shots, which helped. It has made my life a bit better. But other things started to hurt, so it's a balanced situation."
Chrissy 36, Crohn's Disease
"Nothing is more important than health because you can't live if you're not healthy."
Trudy 54, Type 2 Diabetes
"I need to set small goals for myself."
Rayna 28, Type 2 Diabetes
"I have to laugh or else I'd cry."


Based on our interviews, we created our concepts as storyboards. Storyboards walk through an experience from the member’s perspective and are used to stimulate conversation during testing with participants.


The health insurance company identifies members who’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition. It then sends a flier inviting them to participate in a program that will contribute money to an HSA as they improve their health.


Members with the same chronic condition meet weekly to discuss successes, failures, questions, and concerns. The meetups are facilitated by a coach and members are encouraged to mentor newly diagnosed members.

Prescribed Steps

Each day, a coach messages the member with a task for the day. The member then provides feedback on how the task went.


Members complete goals and watch a digital plant grow as they make progress.


Each day the member is asked what healthy activities they completed and are then asked to rate each one using a happy or sad face. The nurse can review the activities and provide positive reinforcement.

Virtual Coach

Members choose a type of coach (nurse, nutritionist, physical therapist, etc.) and schedule video appointments. Together, the coach and member, create a care plan.

Prototype Testing

After creating storyboards to test, we invited many of the interview participants onsite to gather feedback. These 60-minute interviews also allowed us to obtain a better understanding of their needs and also follow up on their condition and progress.


“I don’t want people to see me when I’m at home, so I wouldn’t like a video call.”


“I want to recognize the providers as people.”


“I just want to know what I’m supposed to eat so I can go do it.”


“Wouldn’t you want to talk to someone before you choose a coach?”


“I want to be pushed, but not too far.”


“I tend to isolate myself because you don’t want to talk to people when you don’t feel good.”

Liftoff: Thrive Prototype

Thrive was an early concept to quickly test live chat interactions between a person and an Optum nurse outside of a structured interview or testing setting. We launched Thrive to a public URL and drove traffic using Google AdWords. Once on the landing page, a potential user could sign up for an account and chat with a nurse for free. An experienced Optum nurse staffed Thrive at set hours and responded to any messages that had been left or had conversations with anyone who was logged in.


We wanted to see what really happened when people were able to chat with a nurse without constraint on their interactions.


This test revealed that a key service prioritized by our organization was not valued by our members. Optum had prioritized delivering health content from trusted sources to our members. However, modern search tools such as Google make it easy for our members to individually vet and verify health content. Therefore, Optum’s service seems repetitive to many members. Members are looking for the answer to “what do I do” not “where should I go for information.”


BEING DIAGNOSED WITH A CHRONIC CONDITION IS A LOSS. People need to grieve the loss of their former life.


Acceptance is a realistic definition of what their new version of “healthy” is. MANY NEVER FIND A NEW VERSION OF HEALTHY and continue living their lives as they did before.


People have more information than they need. THEY DON’T NEED TO KNOW MORE, they need to know what applies to them.


Once people know what applies to them, THEY NEED HELP SEEING PROGRESS.


People are OPEN TO CHANGE following a diagnosis. Helping people see how that change impacts their lives is critical to helping them get healthy.


People are often given specific directives on what to do about their chronic condition. They often find that the directives don’t work for them and find themselves in a failure loop, eventually giving up. PEOPLE NEED NON-JUDGEMENTAL SUGGESTIONS of strategies that also connect to their personal goals. That way, when something fails, it is the strategy that failed, not the person.

Summary Of Learnings

PROBLEM: Everyone Is Different



People need help contextualizing care advice in their own lives and choosing what to do about that advice.




PROBLEM: Change Is Hard



People need suggestions on what to try and a way to track effectiveness.




PROBLEM: It Never Ends



People need help defining, understanding, and acting on a new definition of “healthy.”




User Testing

Every two weeks at a nearby lab, we conducted usability testing with people who had recently been diagnosed with a chronic disease. Early testing focused on the product’s service, whereas later testing focused on usability.

Step 1

Simple wireframes supplemented with Google hangouts to test chat and video service.

Step 2

Early UI mockups supplemented with Google hangouts to test chat and video services.

Step 3

Working application.

User Testing Insights

People NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT from the landing page.


Meeting with a coach over a video is IMPORTANT TO QUICKLY ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP and efficiently use the member’s and coach’s time. But, for some people, a video call is too big a commitment to a first contact.


Video chat is WEIRD AT FIRST but quickly becomes comfortable.


People NEED SOME FLEXIBILITY in how they begin engaging with a coach (chat, video, phone).


People NEED TO SEE A DESCRIPTION OF WHO THEIR COACH IS and his or her credentials.


People ARE SLOW AT CHAT but tend to be much more comfortable when chatting than video and phone.

User Acceptance Testing

User Acceptance Testing is a method of launching a prototype to test the service design and all necessary tools. Before piloting with a client and using nurses to facilitate the service, we launched the platform under the name Prosper and the URL, using a personal trainer to test the service. The behavior change challenges and program elements for personal training and chronic condition management are strongly correlated. Family and friends were instructed to sign up and work with the personal trainer and our team observed and interviewed to evaluate to the product.

User Acceptance Testing Insights

A CLEAR ONBOARDING PROCESS IS VITAL to understanding the product and activating users.


PEOPLE RESPOND BEST when there are clear objectives to meetings.


PEOPLE NEED HELP ARTICULATING CLEAR and realistic goals and strategies. The coach should guide them and co-author goals and strategies with the member.


ALLOWING PEOPLE TO SCHEDULE THE FIRST MEETING with a coach themselves and fill out an assessment prior to the first visit is key to creating an efficient and effective relationship between member and coach.

Customer Journey Map

The Aware Member

The Unaware Member

Design Statement

A friendly and approachable coaching platform for people recently diagnosed with a chronic condition to get support, learn strategies that work for them, and get control over their disease.


The design prioritizes ongoing chat with a nurse and allows for people to take greater ownership of their own health after progressing through the program.