The journey from a physical to a digital value proposition
Who is Atos Medical?
Atos Medical develops and sells medical devices, driven by the desire to make life easier for people that have had a laryngectomy. A laryngectomy is a partial or full removal of the voice box. Atos Medical's products are today present in more than 90 countries, helping its patients with overcoming the challenges of breathing, speaking and living with a neck stoma.
Challenges with laryngectomy
Undergoing surgery is always very emotional in terms of what to expect under the surgery, the uncertainty of not knowing if everything will go as planned and equally what life will look like afterwards. If a scale exists in terms of the most emotional surgeries one can undergo, laryngectomy would be at the very top. This is due to the fact that after a full laryngectomy, large parts of the voice box is removed, leaving you incapable of speech in the classical sense as well as leaving you with a stoma in your throat from which you now breathe and speak. However, it is possible to learn how to speak afterwards!
For many years, Atos Medical has supported patients with a laryngectomy with their physical products that allows for the patients to breathe through an HME as well as, with a lot of training, being able to speak through the HME. Atos found that for a lot of their patients, it proved difficult to adapt to their new situation and this led to social discomfort and patients withdrawing from social situations as well as healthcare consultations. Part of the reason for this is due to the loss of the primary means of communication, the voice. Other parts can be attributed to the stigma surrounding the stoma, as laryngectomy is often connected to an unhealthy lifestyle involving, but not limited to, smoking. Last but not least the stoma and the HME are often visually exposed as a free flow of air is required for it to function optimally, leading to self consciousness and a sense of insecurity. Thus Atos had found that even though they had the hardware needed to support the patients, a lot of the patients still struggled with proper rehabilitation.
In order to help the patients improve their quality of life after they have undergone surgery, Atos decided to create an app that could help address the above standing challenges.
Atos reached out to Shape with the aim of getting help with conceptualizing, designing and developing an app that would help prepare the patients of what to come and get the proper aid no matter their social insecurities and other physical obstacles.
In this phase we at Shape worked with understanding the real problem that the patients were facing, both by listening to Atos but equally from talking to patients and healthcare professionals. From this it became clear that it would bring value to create a digital companion which could support the three main themes identified in the process;
Sense of belonging - includes features such “understanding your stoma” (Visual), articles around others who have gone through the same and the ability to be comforted in the fact that things will be okay.
Education and understanding - This focuses heavily on educating both the patients and their relatives but equally the healthcare professionals involved with laryngectomy. This includes sections on every aspect of living with a stoma, such as finding the right bandaid, how to deal with a rash, maintaining the HME and so forth.
Companionship - This theme focuses on being a digital companion for the patient and includes features such as breathing and speaking exercises designed by professionals, alongside notifications and reminders to remember to do relevant activities related to the rehabilitation process. Future features for this could include weather reports and alerts focusing on changes in the weather that will affect the HME such as humidity and pollen.
With all design it is important to take into account who the intended audience is, and with the case of Atos this is more true than ever. This is due to the fact that we are talking about a product that lives in the healthcare sector and thus needs to support the healthcare brand, look and feel from Atos. Furthermore as Atos Medical deals in 90 countries around the world the app needed to be designed in order to accommodate users from near and far as well as all layers of society, thus leading to a strong emphasis on enabling accessibility features and the optimization of these.
For the development part of this project there has been a clear focus on the aforementioned fact of Atos Medical being a global supplier thus meaning that the app needs to be able to provide a great user experience on a vast set of devices due to a large variety in the location of the users and hence income and accessibility to hardware. In addition, the app has been built in order to support native languages of the user in a very flexible way that makes it easy to launch the app in a new country / language.
Atos MyLife is now in 12 different countries in their native language and the app has won praise from far and wide. The efforts have been rewarded not only by the users but equally by professionals.
Across the two major app platforms, App Store and Google Play, Atos MyLife has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. This number is a testament to not only the technical quality of the applications but equally the point that Atos has succeeded with creating a digital tool that provides actual value for its clients and helps improve the life of its users.
Because of this it does not come as any sort of surprise that the app's user base has been growing steadily since its first release. Actually the user base has been growing by 15 percent each month ever since the launch of the app. Furthermore if we are to look at the engagement time of the app these are skyrocketing, underlining the value that it creates. Every session in average lasts 4:30 minutes in 2022, which clearly paints a picture of a companion rather than something that satisfies a quick urge to browse. In order to put these numbers in to perspective these matches other high engagement apps such as Skype (4:45) and outperforms other well known players such as Instagram (2:57) and Snapchat (1:37) according to Statista.com*
This year the 12th annual Lovie Awards were held, known as the unofficial European Championship for digital products. This years awards left Shape the digital agency with most wins within the App, Mobile Sites & Voice segment. This was well supported by the Atos MyLife app as this was the Danish app with the most achievements overall. Being recognized with various Danish and International awards comes to show how impactful Atos MyLife has been to their users and showcases the quality of the app. Atos MyLife was distinguished with 4 awards at the 12th Annual Lovie Awards one being a gold prize in the Utilities & Services category. Atos MyLife also received a silver award for Best Practices as well as the People’s Choice award. Last but not least, Atos MyLife was awarded with the Wellness & Lifestyle bronze award, which is a testament to the importance this app has been having in many lives.
But one of the most rewarding things is seeing the effect of the app demonstrated, as it is the case with this approval speech from some of the patients at Atos.
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