The health industry and healthcare are an overwhelming place for consumers. Trying to take care of one’s health is at times embarrassing, particularly when potentially facing that admit something is wrong. All that doesn’t take into account the challenge of deciphering the facts from the myths that you can find on the internet. Confer Health wanted to empower humans to take control of their health by taking medical-grade tests and supplying them over the counter with results instantly at a patient’s fingertips. Totally within their control.
The first market Confer Health was building the at-home diagnostics platform was fertility and pregnancy. The space is wrought with misinformation and anxiety.
As someone who has not gone through the stress of trying to conceive or giving birth, there was a lot of research conducted to truly understand what the needs of the users were and what they were missing from the market. A cursory search in the fertility space referred to as #TTC (trying to conceive) is fraught with misinformation. Part of the issue is the gaping hole where sexual education should be. The other is that we are all socialized to believe females are hyperfertile. This leads to a sense of failure for those who don’t get pregnant after trying for a few months. What makes it worse is the isolation that humans trying to conceive. Without knowing how long it will take, the matter is kept private from family and friends so it doesn’t become an on-going awkward reminder of failure; that something is wrong with you that’s making it take so long.
This understanding of the situation is based on interviews and surveys with hundreds of individuals trying to conceive. The common themes in all of our research identified two core personas that the product would target: a person trying to conceive for their second or more child and a person who is trying to conceive without a heterosexual partner.
After identifying our personas, we considered the journey a potential customer might have that would lead them to Confer and the promise of value that Confer was making to a customer. The result of many discussions within the product team is the journey map below.
With a system and user experience in mind, the only challenge left for our product was testing it with users in a way that we could validate without our technology. The hardware and science were not ready to be tested. Furthermore, they would require a clinical trial. We separated the system, specifically the mobile app from the technology and set a goal to take existing over-the-counter ovulation and pregnancy tests to validate the value we believe a pregnancy companion would provide.
The underlying system
The pregnancy companion was based on predicting an individual’s menstrual cycle and actually recommending when to: take an ovulation test, have sex, and take a pregnancy test. Believe it or not, this simple level of guidance does not exist in the dozens of existing apps in the fertility space!
After reading books and publications on the menstrual cycle, this state machine was our first system for prediction for the pregnancy companion app. This visualization of the system allowed the engineers and head of product to talk through all the edge cases and understand what the companion app was really doing.
Once the behavior of the pregnancy companion was defined, the next step was the screen flow that a user would experience and how the state machine would manifest in inputs or recommendations.
The next task was to figure out how to present the information. Identifying all the pieces of information and prioritizing them allowed us to define the information architecture. As with many projects, the feature inventory was much larger than was feasible for our timeline, so the information architecture also provided a way to cut down to the essential components of the program.
The alpha release of the pregnancy companion was a longitudinal usability test with 21 users, 13 of which were active; 5 got pregnant. The alpha was an overall success with many lessons learned for the product and as a product team.
The next phase was to start working on the full mobile application that included the setup and coordination with the proprietary hardware that analyzed samples and provided results. The diagram below illustrates the entire system for the mobile application through conception into pregnancy and the many pathways out of pregnancy.
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, here is where the project ended.