Inspiration and problem scenario

LGBTQ+ identifying people represent a sizeable minority of the Australian population yet experience disproportionately worsened health outcomes. A complicated variety of societal and systematic factors contribute to a heightened prevalence of mental health and chronic illness challenges. This is coupled with discriminatory and pathologizing barriers evident in our healthcare system - aggravating these scenarios and creating a perfect storm of individuals needing specialised care who are unable to access it.

The current health environment has lead LGBTQ+ people to hacking together their own solutions - private forums and static lists of approved health providers. These solutions present their own challenges, they either require word of mouth referral access or lack rich functionality, utilising general tools to address specific problems. Queer individuals are apprehensive of corporate interventions and health services due to their prior experiences, trusting primarily in shared community knowledge.

Who would use it?

To understand this question we conducted agile phone interviews and secondary ethnographic analysis to conceptualise potential users into three persona archetypes - not yet out teenager Louise (the Surveyor), early stage transgender Jordan (the Seeker), and same-sex parent family the Michaels (the Generators). These user segments were illustrated through narratives, collective and individual current state problems and usability goals to inform our MVP requirements and functionalities.

These archetypes were crafted as representatives of the diverse people that make up the LGBTQ+ - our aim was to cast as wide a generalised net as possible of the community without disrespecting individuality.

What it does

This early prototype is a minimum viable product offering of Community, demonstrating only the core functionalities to fulfil the primary goal of reducing barriers to quality and trustworthy LGBT+ health care.

This core interactive functionality revolves around the persona of the Seeker and the user goal of finding a trans friendly general practitioner near him.

Secondary functionality of the product such as engaging with community boards (the Surveyor) and contributing to the community by making recommendations (the Generators) is also demonstrated in this prototype however has limited interactivity as these goals are auxiliary and could not be realistically built within the time frame.

How does it work?


  • Search for medical services and professionals based on your location or choice of suburb.

  • Filter search using selected criteria for customisable results catered to your healthcare needs.

  • Map presented to visualise geographical proximity to health services and further contextualise search results.

  • Card UI design pattern to minimise mental load and ensure ease of use as it is a familiar mental model.

  • Contributors of the platform can recommend providers with informative and emotive tags. These tags cater to the diverse health needs of LGBT+ individuals.

  • Hosts community boards to discuss queer related medical topics.

  • Create an account to access community boards and create recommendations for health care services and practitioners. Non-members can still search and view Community but are unable to contribute.

How we built it

On the back end, a Mongo database was used to store the user accounts, practitioners, practices, reviews and tags - Mongoose was used to define the database schema using the GraphQL API - this was to allow rapid iteration in a hackathon context. Apollo was the medium layer to perform queries and mutations on the database, and Mailgun to authenticate users. On the front end a super hacky React context API was used for state management and to render the pages material design components. Heroku was used to serve the backend and Netlify for the front.

Challenges we ran into

  • There were inherent coding challenges with having a four designer, one developer team - navigated this through solid workflow management.
  • Developer was predominantly experienced in front end so completely new to MongoDB, Mongoose, and Apollo - with small experience in GraphQL - we enjoyed learning on the fly though :)
  • A win - put queries to get data inside of relevant components, finding a way to layout the database connection in a way that was manageable for a small project like this - would face scale issues but perfect for purpose.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Crystallising our users needs and fleshing out their flows in a manner to allow ample time for agile development.
  • Using our designers non-coding time to create brand guidelines, purpose, evidencing the service and utilising human centric design methodology to develop and iterate out slick user interfaces.
  • Front-end developer learnt and implemented multiple back end technologies for the first time (in 24 hours!)
  • Creating something impactful to our communities that we are proud of producing.

What we learned

  • Managing design lead developer workflows in a ticking time frame (hourly sprint > WIP > sprint > whiiiiip!)
  • Crystallising user personas, journeys, and problems simultaneously with development can be good design practice.
  • Back end technologies for a front end dev.
  • Exposing designers to tech stacks they had never even heard of before and educating ourselves on constraints and possibilities for application development.

What's next for community

From a business plan perspective:

Near horizon

  • Engage with community leaders on social media to promote platform through impactful digital content (Instagram, Facebook)
  • Engage with community content creators and leaders to create bespoke resources
  • Create a 12 month plan of community events to partake in (Fair Day, Mardi Gras etc)
  • Create approved endorsement advertisement model for auxiliary revenue stream

Future horizon

  • Create a health professional facing system for the forum so users can opt in to doctor responses (I.e RealSelf)
  • Expand and localise offering through new international organisation partnerships
  • Innovate on the current online health booking experience to implement online booking - lead this market

For us - sleeping! Near future: enter the validate stage of product development and conducting QA, usability and conceptual testing through co-design activities.



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