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new language for health

MA 2022
digital healthcare, online health consultation, new way of expression

Novo, new language for health, is a platform gives patients new language to visualize and communicate their pain, increase time, and develop assurance during online health consultations.


It provides a new way for patients to express their problems on a body map using simple graphics which are easy to understand, especially for those who have language barriers, and also increases interaction in the conversation between patients and doctors as a communication tool.


In addition, it encourages narrative for patients to talk about their personal journey, for doctors to provide personalized interventions.


Thanks for the support of general medical practitioners involved in this project whose professional knowledge and rich experience greatly promote the progress of this project.

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Online health consultations, a new emerging digital healthcare service

In the last decade, remote primary care consultations, conducted by telephone, video, or text-based communication have become more common. Also the pandemic has rapidly accelerated this change. In the UK, it’s provided by the public healthcare service NHS and also some other private healthcare providers like Babylon health.

My internship as a UX designer in a digital healthcare company Jingdong Health raised my interest about this service, because I saw lots of missing gaps during the whole service process that can be explored and solved.


Main barriers in online health consultations for patients and doctors

In my research, I spoke to over 20 people who have online health consultation experience, including private healthcare users, NHS online GP service users, and students. Also, I interviewed some GPs with rich work experience.

From the perspective of the patients, limited time of the consultation, incomplete communication between patients and doctors, and patients’ lack of assurance are the three biggest problems of online health consultations.


However, for doctors, the main problem is the lack of time and narrative. Doctors need time to communicate with the patients to know their personal stories and journey to find the potential cause related to the problems they are consulting, give solutions based on patients’ personal situation, and even intervene before they develop some big problems. Compared to supplying detailed solutions and assurance, they are more willing to see patients assure themselves and reduce their worries and anxiety.

When gathering all the research outcomes, I got the following insights:

About time:

Before the consultation, less procedures and easier ways for patients to share physical condition before seeing a doctor will increase accessibility and efficiency of online consultation;

During the consultation, structured conversations could make online consultation more efficient and reduce the anxiety caused by limited time;

After the consultation, further connections and guidance after appointments could meet patients’ need of a longer healthcare journey.

About communication:

Increasing communication and human interactions during online health consultations could reduce patients' concerns that they are not being listened to and understood by doctors, potentially a new language is required.

About assurance:

Supplying personalized support around patients' problems and worries with doctors’ professional skills could increase assurance and then reduce anxiety.


My research and insights make me believe the theory that, if we can create a new language for patients to communicate their pain, we can then better use the consultation time, make patients feel being listened to and then increase assurance.

How might we develop a better language to communicate health in order to stretch time and increase assurance in online health consultations?


A new way of expression

I would like to design a new way for patients to express their problems, which increases interaction in the communication between patients and doctors, and to some extent encourages narrative for patients to talk about their personal journey. This new way of expression should be easy for patients to access and at the same time guarantee efficiency according to the key elements of supplying good consultation service I got from previous research and findings.


Specific problems and personal journey

The main service can be divided into two different aspects, specific problems and personal journey.


Specific problems:

Before the consultation starts, for patients to describe their specific problems in advance, a body map and simple graphics are used to record their problems around location, symptom, intensity, duration, frequency and pattern according to the basic information doctors require. It’s like a dictionary designed for communication, especially for those who have language barriers.

During the consultation, patients and doctors could look at the body map together to increase interactions, and patients will feel that their problems are really being seen by the doctors to increase assurance, and it’s also convenient for doctors to double check or ask further questions to discover more details about patients’ real feelings.

After the consultation, doctors could add the diagnosis report and action plan on the body map for patients to check and review. 

The body map will show the record of patients’ previous consultations and diseases, but we also encourage patients to record some daily problems that they think are not serious enough to go to the doctors, then the doctor can know the patients’ overall conditions, and may find some relations between different diseases.

Personal journey:

About the personal journey, patients need to complete their personal profile including lifestyle, family context, exercise, stress level and sleep, which is important for GP to provide personalized interventions. That’s about how they usually spend their day, sitting in front of the screen, heavy physical work, sitting on the sofa, etc; and if they are sharing living space with others; frequency of exercise; currently in lower or higher stress level; if have any sleep problems like dreamful, wake up frequently during night, or even insomnia. After completing the profile, it’s open for patients to update according to the changing of their lifestyle.


I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my project tutor, Judah Armani, who always encouraged and guided me throughout the whole design journey; Dr. Andersen and Dr. Sandid, who gave brilliant advice using their professional knowledge and rich experience, and greatly contributed to the progress of this project.

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