We have been developing cutting-edge enterprise digital solutions for financial, publishing, media and not-for-profit institutions. All of the solutions we have developed are accessible through a web browser from mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. The design thinking and user experience was mainly around how the digital solution will be intuitive and allow the user to accomplish their goal in an efficient manner. However, the Users have been mainly confined to the web browser and click experience. Amazon's Alexa is a liberating experience for the user, it engages and interacts in the most intuitive and natural way through voice. The first thought was 'How can I apply Alexa skills to improve quality of life' and health journal skill idea took roots.

What it does

Health journal is an intuitive and easy to use Alexa skill that helps you to record symptoms and visualize how they have changed over a period of time. Health Journal skill keeps a track of symptoms, body area impacted by the symptom, and severity. The skill then displays a chart of how the symptoms have changed over time along with a detailed log of all the journal entries. User can view this on display enabled Amazon Alexa device or request the skill to send the report via SMS text message. Health Journal can track symptoms and generate report for multiple members of the household.

The FREE version offers three health journal entries per/month and upto three records visible in the report. The Subscription to full version allows you to:

  1. Record unlimited symptoms for members in the household
  2. View full report with trend data for the last one month, three months, six months, or one year.
  3. Receive report link with full report on SMS
  4. View full report on Amazon Alexa device with screen

How I built it

Technologies: Alexa Skills Kit, Node.JS, DynamoDB, React, Twilio Learning how to build Voice skills:

Interaction Design: The approach of designing web applications or mobile apps is quite different from designing an Alexa skill. The design guide from Amazon Alexa team was one of the best resources that helped me learn how to design a user experience that is best suited for voice skill. The technology learning curve is simpler than what I had assumed. In addition to learning Alexa skills, I had the opportunity to learn DynamoDB, S3, and React.

Visual Design: Our goal for visual design was to keep it simple, clear and elegant throughout the user engagement. In addition, we wanted the skill to be multi-modal and the designer had to create images suitable for various recommended sizes. In addition, we wanted to share with the user simple visual messages on screen that are contextually relevant. For example, when the user finishes recording their symptom the skill displays a small yellow flower bouquet along with 'hope you feel better' message, similarly when a user buys subscription the skill shows 'thank you for subscribing' or when user cancels subscription the skill displays a sad icon with message 'Sorry to see you go' etc.

Challenges I ran into

Multi-Modal: It was important for us to support seamless experience across multiple forms of devices from Amazon Alexa dot to Amazon Echo show and beyond. In the beginning we assumed that Alexa will check the device type and tailor the experience on the fly automatically for each device. Soon we realized that it is important to design for each device experience and incorporate the code to check if the device supports APL and in some cases if the device supports OpenURL.

In-Skill Purchasing: The challenge was to figure out what would be of value to the user in FREE version vs the Full version that comes with subscription. The twitch session was very helpful and I learnt about how to approach the in-skill purchase scenario. From a technical perspective, the in-skill purchasing process was very easy to incorporate in the skill and it was amazing to see how the UpSell and Buy experiences were managed by Alexa. The skill was carefully designed to support intents for What can I Buy? What did I buy? Tell me more about the subscription? Buy Health Journal. Cancel Subscription etc.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I am proud to see that we have created something meaningful and I am eager to see how the health journal skill could help individuals and families diagnosed with non-communicable diseases such as Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Multiplesclerosis, Parkinsons, Cancer, Epilepsy, and Asthama as well as the Elderly segment in keeping a track of their symptoms and visualizing changes over time.

What I learned

Through this experience, I have realized the tremendous potential for Alexa use cases. Alexa skills can play a vital role in improving quality of life for millions around the world as well as create completely new medium and experience of commerce.

What's next for Health Journal

We would like to see Health Journal evolve into a comprehensive and holistic skill that addresses its user's evolving needs. We intend to evolve by learning more about our users, seeing how they use the skill and what could help them. On the product roadmap, we anticipate working closely with the health and insurance industry to offer:

  1. Blood Pressure Log that allows users to easily log their blood pressure readings by telling the skill the reading
  2. Medication compliance nudge for elderly and adults
  3. Pre-Operative and Post-Operative tracking
  4. Perhaps work with the hospitals to help them provide a better patient experience during their stay in the hospital

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