During my first semester of the Georgia Tech HCI program, I collaborated with my team to research and design a mobile application to promote COVID-19 vaccination amongst vaccine-hesitant university students.
Although COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the United States, low COVID-19 vaccination rates and high vaccine hesitancy remained prevalent amongst Atlanta-area college-age adults. These circumstances presented an opportunity to engage in the process of research and design to best understand and provide for the immediate assets and needs of local COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant university students.
VaxU is a mobile healthcare provider portal that addresses the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy of Atlanta-area college students. It accomplishes this by giving the ability to conveniently book COVID-19 vaccine appointments, providing channels of direct communication with university healthcare providers for COVID-19 vaccine concerns, and offering up-to-date supporting information about COVID-19 vaccines.
By August of 2021, the United States made substantial progress to counter the infectious spread of COVID-19, most notably through the development of novel vaccines that proved to reduce the chance of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from the virus. Despite these vital advancements, COVID-19 vaccination rates stagnated in growth and vaccine hesitancy continued to persist, especially amongst college-age young adults (18-30 years old). Throughout Atlanta-area universities, there was a concerning range of COVID-19 vaccination rates and lingering vaccine hesitancy amongst local student populations. As members of this community, my team and I were passionate about using the opportunity of this project to protect the health and wellbeing of those around us.
The goal of this observation was to understand how the COVID-19 vaccination process operates on a college campus and how students approach the vaccination process.
We conducted a single field observation session outside of the Georgia Tech Stamps Health Services COVID-19 vaccination clinic in which my teammates and I observed the people and environment.
The observations provided a detailed understanding of the campus COVID-19 vaccination process and indicated the points of confusion and apprehension students experience in the vaccination process.
The goal of the survey was to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in our target population and associated attitudes and beliefs about COVID-19 vaccination.
To reach our target population of COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant students, we distributed our Qualtrics survey across Atlanta-area university social media pages, which resulted in a total of 290 responses.
The surveys demonstrated COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant students make up a small but notable portion of local university populations and provided insight into common attitudes and beliefs shared among COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant students.
The goal of the interviews was to gain in-depth insight into the reasoning and influences of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst our target population.
We remotely conducted three semi-structured interviews with vaccine-hesitant Atlanta-area university students who were recruited through their survey responses.
The interviews demonstrated specific reasons behind university students' hesitancy towards COVID-19 vaccination and common influences that impact their vaccine decision-making processes.
Following the conclusion of our primary research practices, I led my project team in aggregating disparate information and findings from each individual research method. Through this aggregation process, we distilled our overall research findings into these essential points.
Students struggle to find easily-comprehensible information about COVID-19 vaccination.
Students do not trust other reputable COVID-19 vaccine information sources found in the media.
Ethnicity factors into students' hesitancy towards COVID-19 vaccination due to existing preconceptions of healthcare.
Family and friends seem to have the most immediate impact on students' COVID-19 vaccination beliefs.
Healthcare providers are essential to students' experiences with and perceptions of COVID-19 vaccination.
Students do not often consider the potential long-term complications of COVID-19 contraction and illness.
Students tend to have persistent COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, even after they have been fully vaccinated.
Students are often most trusting of verfied scientific research for the latest COVID-19 vaccination information.
Upon distilling the central findings of our research process, I developed a series of personas based on these findings and the research demographic data. These peronas were vital to establishing an empathetic connection to the vaccine-related populations we sought to design a solution for.
To initiate the design process, I next led my team members in translating our research findings and personas into a series of actionable design requirements. These design requirements were the key guiding factors throughout the conception, development, and evaluation of our solution.
The design should care for users both mentally and physically to help them maintain health and safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The design should provide users with regularly-updated and accurate COVID-19 information to keep them aware and informed.
The design should support users in the long-term as they experience the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects in their lives.
The design should be trustworthy for users by providing information solely from reputable and verified sources.
Following the establishment of our design requirements, I facilitated a brainstorming session in which each team member shared their ideas, which were then expanded upon by the other team members. Through this ideation process, we refined our initial ideas into a total of 3 concepts.
This platform utilizes crowdsourced contributions from people who had experiences with COVID-19 and vaccinations to build meaningful connections. This platform relies on an editorial team to vet submissions to verify the accuracy of their content.
This portal provides students the ability to seamlessly complete the process of COVID-19 vaccination at campus health clinics. This portal facilitates direct communication about COVID-19 vaccinations between students and healthcare providers for both immediate and longer-term concerns.
This database is a platform for leading research scientists to directly translate their findings related to COVID-19 and corresponding vaccines so students can access and understand relevant findings. This database relies upon multimedia, data visualizations, and readability assessments to ensure the information is accessible.
After assessing and selecting our design concept of the healthcare provider portal, I next led my team in establishing the user flow through which our users would navigate the application. This user flow were essential to developing the wireframes, design system, and final prototype.
Once the central user flow was established, I facilitated our team's cooperative development of a series of low-fidelity wireframes that execute the user flow. These wireframes served as the basis for further developing the operational prototype.
Upon the completion of wireframing the central user flow of VaxU, I guided our team in establishing a design system to systematically apply to the wireframes to increase the fidelity of our prototype.
Following the development of our design system, I led my team in applying the established guidelines to our series of wireframes and assigning prototype interactions to develop a mid-to-high fidelity prototype that demonstrated the core functionality of VaxU.
VaxU enables users to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments through their universities' healthcare centers. This process provides users with detailed directions and explanations at each step to establish transparency and build trust as they prepare for their COVID-19 vaccination.
VaxU allows users to directly communicate with healthcare providers at their universities' healthcare clinics to address COVID-19 vaccine concerns. Users may book video appointments or initiate text chats with to receive additional care and support during their vaccination process.
VaxU provides users with supplementary information guides to help address any questions or concerns they may have throughout the COVID-19 vaccination process. These guides are sourced from official government and scientific publications to ensure they are relevant and accurate.
The goal of these walkthroughs was to assess our prototype's implementation of its core functionalities in order to develop iterative design recommendations.
We conducted three remote expert cognitive walkthroughs with graduate students and professors with expertise in the fields of human-computer interaction and user-experience design.
The expert cognitive walkthroughs validated our successful implementation of the prototype's core functionalities and offered design recommendations to further improve prototype functionality.
The goal of this usability testing was to determine how usable the primary functions of the platform were for representative users to assess the potential value of the implementation of our prototype.
We conducted five remote usability tests with vaccine-hesitant Atlanta-area college students by moderating pre-established scenarios based on the prototype's core functionalities.
The usability testing indicated that our representative users were able to operate the primary functions of the platform, demonstrating the prototype offers real value as a solution to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
VaxU presents a novel healthcare provider platform focused on the needs of COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant college students. By providing the ability to conveniently book appointments, enabling direct communication with university healthcare providers, and offering the latest COVID-19 vaccine information, the features of this platform might shift people's vaccination attitudes from hesitancy to acceptance. This remains vital as these shifts in vaccination attitudes create lasting change by promoting the cultural value of the importance of vaccines and thus improve the health and safety of all.
I am proud to have contributed to the development of this solution with the collaboration of my teammates. Though it was often challenging to design a solution for a problem that was unfolding in real-time, it remained exciting to navigate and problem-solve in a subject area that I am passionate about. The central challenge of this project ultimately made my contributions feel that much more urgent and meaningful. It was rewarding design a solution that is vital to the wellbeing of my community.