Can UX Design Fix Digital Healthcare’s “Women’s Problem?”

The number of apps in the “healthcare for women” category has exploded, solving a slew of problems while creating a whole new set of tricky issues for UX designers

For anyone who’s ever Googled their medical symptoms and then flown into a panic over the results, good news is on the way in the form of a slew of new, allegedly life-altering healthcare apps, many of which are specifically targeted at women. There are period-tracking apps designed for a variety of different users, from hopeful parents trying to conceive, to those tracking how hormonal cycles affect their skin. There are fertility apps that come with their own Bluetooth thermometers, and others for people going through menopause. There’s even a pregnancy app that provides prenatal imaging (the result is strangely similar to the floating Star Child in 2001: A Space Odyssey). Beyond services that collect data, there are telemedicine platforms that link users to doctors who can prescribe birth control, and an app that sends alerts designed to help catch breast cancer at an early phase.

The digitization of health is on the rise. On the one hand, this brave new world has garnered praise for its egalitarian and educational possibilities, but the landscape hasn’t shifted without due criticism, either. Some argue that trackers marketed to female consumers encourage yet another way to obsess about the body. Medical experts bemoan the problem of false claims generated by incorrect data entry, as well as the decline of vital in-person patient/physician relationships, and the issue of the way private medical information is shared. Then there’s the way an app represents its user base; one of the biggest challenges to emerge from the growing number of health startups dealing with female reproduction is how they engage with marginalized groups typically left out of the design process...more