Case Study: Chronwell Inclusive Design & Worker’s Comp
A recent Studio Analogous project speaks directly to how inclusive design principles can be applied to nearly every consumer experience- and how many aspects of even a very basic user experience can be improved by thinking inclusively. I hope that examples like this and much of our other work at Studio Analogous can offer other designers, businesses, and product managers some insight into how inclusive principles can be relevant in almost every domain.
When I first encountered Chronwell, it was a coincidence; I met their CEO at a party, a high school friend of my brother. As someone who’s very interested in the direction of new businesses, both personally and professionally, I was very curious about the new startup he was talking about; Chronwell’s goal was to create an entirely new experience for employers, insurers and workers in handling worker’s compensation claims. It would utilize AI systems to speed interaction and between all the various involved parties, gathering information and documents, which would then coordinate with human professionals. They were looking outward for UX/UI development; was I interested?
For several reasons, I was very interested. My father is a neurosurgeon, and is presently part of a team developing a web tool for people with a pituitary condition, so I’ve been immersed in conversation about the very specific digital design considerations for people with different motor and cognitive abilities. A product about worker’s compensation would, by definition, include the disabled; had the CEO considered various inclusive design principles to create a user-friendly UI?
Like a lot of people, he hadn’t initially been thinking about this at all- fortunately, he was very interested in the ways they could, and were excited to involve Studio Analogous. As the workload of programming and building the practical code of the applications was quite large, it was sourced to a separate developer; we would focus, instead, on the foundational UX design and branding, and continue on after release as an adviser to consult on ongoing product development.
There’s widespread agreement that the worker’s compensation system in the United States is a broken one, for many reasons: inefficiencies and outdated technology at various levels of the system can make claims take weeks or months- even years in extreme cases- all while an injured person is unable to work, and may not be otherwise bringing in money to support their family. The very nature of the claims process as it exists is intrinsically adversarial- insurers are motivated to avoid approving claims, businesses are motivated to avoid paying, and injured workers quickly become conditioned not to trust anyone along the way. It is traditionally a “lose-lose” system: already-disadvantaged workers view other participants in the process as callous and greedy, while they themselves are viewed with suspicion as having an implicit interest in manipulating the process and being dishonest.
Chronwell wasn’t setting out to address every unjust policy around worker’s compensation by themselves, but we began with awareness of these inequalities and a desire to have their product contribute to lasting change within its scope. A claims processing application that maximizes transparency to all parties and causes information and documentation to be organized in a consistent, fast, modern way, accessible to all involved, will be inherently more just than anything before it.Beginning from the perspective that all parties are aligned on the majority of desired outcomes- that an injured worker should be able to make an accurate injury claim and receive care that allows them to return to work, healthy, as soon as possible- we could next turn our attention to the specific needs of all the various stakeholders in this process to design the right UX.
To further an inclusive design, we next considered the users themselves. What are the concerns of someone who will be using the worker-facing application, Recovry? For a person filing a worker’s compensation claim, this is a very worrisome time: will my claim be awarded, and even if it is, will it match the actual costs of medical care for my injury? How will I know if all my information is getting to the right people, and being trusted as accurate so my claim will be treated as real and honest? Who can I go to for my care, and know that it will be covered? How will my family and I get by in the meantime, and how soon can I return to work? Exploring these concerns, and the way they’re voiced by people finding themselves in the worker’s comp system, informed the language and tone of the app and the AI assistant “Chris” that most claimants will interact with along the way: we’re motivated to help you get better, help you get paid, and make it to your medical appointments.
Inclusive design offered much to consider in the more tangible aspects of UI development, as well. Chronwell was developing a product that would be used by impaired individuals by its very nature, and there are a staggering variety of conditions that can render someone unable to work. Vision, motor skills, and, of course, resilience to stress and fatigue are among the most common challenges someone faces during this time. Considering these areas led to numerous immediately practical UI designs: large and legible fonts. High-contrast colors, backgrounds, and text. Full integration with accessibility features of mobile devices: screen readers, voice command, Braille peripherals, and so on. Features were developed to closely resemble applications most users would already be familiar with, such as typical email and messaging clients.
Alongside UX/UI development, these considerations also contributed to building a mission-consistent brand for Chronwell: logos and imagery conveying their commitment to compassionate care, inclusion, and positive outcomes- reassuring smiles embedded in symbols, and friendly imagery depicting relatable situations and hopeful results.
Chronwell has already been lauded in the marketplace for its results; it has received the 2018 “Best Patient Relationship Management Award” by MedTech Breakthrough, and made headlines when it partnered with the California agricultural cooperative CFM. I continue to advise Chronwell in the optimization and ongoing development of the Recovry and Recovry Center apps on inclusive design issues.
Interested in more of the Chronwell story? We included Chronweel CEO Dr. Joe Rubinsztain in our IQ Interview Series of inclusive design leaders and innovators.
Want us to bring the next inclusive success story to your company? We’d love to hear your plans and join the team. Contact us.