Selected Projects

Creating a mobile experience for our U.S. Veterans

ROLE : UX LEAD

Building on preexisting VA research

There is amazing research available on the problems the VA is facing. They provide great services, but it's difficult to navigate. We interviewed veterans themselves, explored every digital product the VA offered, and sifted through the top white papers that highlighted major issues veterans face today. We knew our prototype wasn't going to solve every problem, so we narrowed down the biggest roadblocks veterans face in receiving their medical benefits and staying healthy. Our client was the VA, but the veterans would be the epicenter. We centered around the following to be our north star for the prototype content:

  • Onboarding & retrieving VA records to jumpstart applications
  • Applying for medical benefits
  • Creating journal entries to produce tangible data for a clinician
  • Connecting with other veterans
  • Scheduling and getting to your first appointment

Untangling the VA health benefits application

It's a nightmare for veterans to find what they need to apply for benefits. They have to retell their story multiple times before being pointed to yet another form or process. We spoke with veterans and simulated what it would be like to try and navigate on their own, only knowing about va.gov.

What we found was staggering.

Crafting the story

We needed a powerful veteran story to become the foundation of the design and showcase the problems the VA was facing with their users.

Setting

Adjusting to civilian life after service can be a stressful and emotionally demanding time for veterans. Many would benefit from mental health services provided by the VA, but are too proud to ask for help or don’t know where to look. Health care providers need to meet patients where they are and reimagine the experience before, during, and between visits with clinicians.

Problem

Men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces exit from military duty only to face new challenges reacclimatizing to civilian life.

The numerous services available to veterans are confusing and many of the application processes are difficult to navigate. This lack of transparency causes additional frustration for veterans at an already stressful time in their lives, compounded by the amount of time it all takes to get help.

Hypothesis

If mental health services were better tailored to the needs and tendencies of veterans,

then patients would be more engaged and open to participate in their treatment journey,

and care providers could address concerns before they become problems.

Design Principles

Simple, Responsive and Transparent Feedback

Personalized to My Needs

Predictive to My Situation

Brings My Circle with Me

Keeps Me Engaged

Mental Health Conscious

Moodboard

Meet Victor

Victor Ryer has recently separated from active military service and has started developing post-war issues.
 He thought he could manage it on his own and hoped it would get better with time. However, the added stress of a new baby has only increased his anxiety and depression. Victor begins to see his issues affecting his ability to be a good father and husband. Unsure what to do and too proud to ask for help, Victor suffers in silence as his symptoms worsen.

AI companionship

Designing for the future of an integrated world, we created Everything-Everywhere-Veteran Affairs, or EEVA. She would be the AI companion veterans could rely on at any time. EEVA would be an expert on the VA, and she'd get to know you on a personal level to best understand your needs. She'll even alert your close ones if she notices a behavior change.

Tell EEVA just enough, and she does the rest. Our goal was to make onboarding quick, smart, and secure. EEVA is fully connected to VA databases and will have the information you've already given through service.

Cards are an excellent way to present information to a user, and the simplicity worked well as a way for EEVA to offer a user with new information. She would predict what you need based off your activity.

Staying healthy

Mental health is one of the top issues for veterans adjusting to civilian life. One of the key features we created was a journaling mechanism called the Pack. There were up to six available input methods, and EEVA will log each entry into a calendar view. If you forget or become disengaged, EEVA will remind you.

Not only will this keep veterans' minds occupied with positive activities, but it tracks progression to produce tangible data that can be shown to a doctor. It was important for the team to remember the user experience for veterans to be healthy was a journey, and this was a great way to see it.

Some final designs

Final prototype

Where is it now?

In short, the VA loved it. They wanted to see more. A new round of funding was opened up to continue R&D, build a 2nd gen prototype to connect to VA databases, and more user testing. I left PwC before round 2 started, so I'm following VA news in hopes to see a future headline with a familiar name, EEVA.

Don't hesitate to reach out! You can get in touch with me through LinkedIn or brianeckmann@gmail.com