Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the world, with most of the deaths occurring in developing countries, where care is not readily available.
Two young Italian entrepreneurs, doctor Niccolò Maurizi (who himself had survived a myocardial infarction at age 16) and Nicolò Briante had an idea: What if we could bring cardiovascular care to where the infrastructure is lacking? What if that solution could also make the daily life of chronic patients easier?
D-Heart is a portable, easy-to-use ECG device that connects to an accompanying smart-phone app. The app guides the user to perform an ECG independently. No infrastructure is needed beyond an internet connection. The results are then sent to a telemedicine service, and analyzed by real doctors.
D-Heart can be used in places, where healthcare services are not readily available. It also makes daily life easier for chronic patients, who no longer need to make regular, time-consuming trips to the hospital.
The team came to us with a rough prototype of a D-Heart device and an app, but they needed the skills of a multidisciplinary team of experienced designers to realize its full potential. To bring the idea to market, the start-up required various kinds of design help, ranging from product design to digital and graphics. Instead of having to employ several agencies along the way, D-Heart worked with one dedicated team throughout the project.
We helped D-Heart turn their idea into a reality by designing both the digital app, physical device and packaging of their game-changing, smartphone ECG device.
Starting with in-depth research, stakeholder mapping, personas development and user end-to-end journey mapping, we identified the key moments, critical aspects, and frontend and backend relationships of the D-Heart experience.
The device interacts with the patient, caregiver, doctor, and a pharmacy, storing and sharing the results of tests. We set ourselves in the shoes of the multiple users – the patients, and the doctors and volunteers working for NGOs in developing countries that are also likely to use the device, to design the best possible user experience for them all.
The physical design of the device balances trust with friendliness. The look and feel signal that it is ‘easy to approach’ and not intimidating, even if it is a complex medical device. The neutral colors were chosen to instill trust, as the device is clinically tested and gives hospital-grade results.
D-Heart features a new, innovative mechanism that allows the user to wind up all the cables at once, or one at a time, and in any order. The function is simple and intuitive to use, but complex to design and engineer.
Since every human body is different, a new, bespoke algorithm was developed to read the electrodes reliably and extremely quickly no matter the patient and their circumstances.
We designed the interface using simple graphics to accommodate the user that may be anxious or in physical pain. Each screen displays just one command to make the testing situation as easy as possible. The user can submit the results to the telecardiology service, which is available 24/7, and get a result quickly from a certified doctor. It also has a calendar function and prompts users to do exams, and it stores medical records and past patient data.
The device needs to be easily transportable, small and light. It also needed to be robust to be able to withstand difficult environmental conditions.
For optimal functionality, we created a neck strap that could be easily put on, even by someone with limited mobility. We also designed a thermoform molded fabric case to protect the device when it’s not in use. An innovative wireless battery charger embedded within the case charges the product when stored. It also has a built-in smartphone stand, since it’s not possible to hold a smartphone if using the device alone.
The packaging features a box in the brand color orange and a simple white sleeve with all the information needed to immediately understand how to start using the product. It’s designed in six different language versions, to be sold in pharmacies and Apple stores all over the world.
D-Heart team is active worldwide in affordable and operator-oriented cardiovascular screening campaigns, partnering with NGOs, private foundations as well as benefit corporations in Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Bangladesh, to name but a few. We’re proud to be a part of the initiative.