Prototyping a Wearable App for Patients in Critical Condition

We worked with First Rescue to prototype a HIPAA-compliant wearable application to give emergency responders critical patient information.


"I was extremely impressed with Very. The app is exactly how I envisioned it would be, and the team was in constant communication with me. Everyone who’s seen the prototype so far has loved it and is eager to see it implemented."

 Carlos Revilla, Founder of First Rescue

The Background

Every first responder knows that seconds count. In an emergency medical situation, outcomes often depend on how fast a person can be treated or transported to a hospital. That means when you lose time, you can also lose lives.


Carlos Revilla, an EMT, recognized this and approached Very with an idea that could make emergency response times faster. Typically, EMTs must take the time to understand a patient’s medical history and status before they can determine the best course of action — which can be a challenge, especially if the patient is unconscious or incapacitated. But Carlos wanted to create a platform that securely stores a patient’s medical history, which could be accessed by first responders on their way to an emergency — and allow them to take action the moment they arrive.

wearable prototype

The Concept

A large percentage of these medical emergencies — about 85% — occur among the elderly, specifically at nursing homes and other senior living facilities. And because these facilities typically maintain residents’ medical data, we chose to focus on this space.


So we framed the concept as a “Fitbit for seniors:” essentially, an electronic health record (EHR) would be stored in a wristband adorned with a QR code. Bringing the idea to life was not only an exercise in UX, but in rapid product design. We began by mapping out a very specific flow of information:

  • At an institution level (an assisted living facility, for example) the staff will populate and update the QR code wearer's EHR through an online portal.
  • The First Rescue App accesses this information via a HIPAA compliant and secure API.
  • Upon scanning the QR code (or searching the app by patient name), the app authenticates with a unique Token identifier to each device/first responder, to hit the database with all of the information on a particular patient.
  • The app then pulls up the EHR, showing the patient's vital information, including medical conditions, medications, physicians, emergency contacts, DNRs, etc. The first responder can quickly and easily reference  this data as they triage.

The Process

At Very, we always test every assumption before we invest time, energy and capital in a build. So we launched a validation cycle, starting with the lean canvas: a simple template that articulates the what, how, and why of a business concept.

Our lean canvas required heavy market research into customer segments, competitors, key metrics, and channels. We also articulated our “unique value proposition:” the ability to make lifesaving medical information immediately accessible to first responders.

We then worked with Carlos to create a needs/wants/desires map. (Needs are the features required for the app to function; wants are features that will be included only if time and resources allow; and desires are features that may be included at some point in the future — but we can’t plan for them just yet.)

Once we settled on the main features, we created an information architecture map, which shows exactly where the features are and what content is associated with them. We also mapped out the user flow to show how the user will move through the app. All of this informed our LoFi prototype. We performed user testing on it, analyzed those results, and adjusted the wireframes accordingly.

wearable application prototype

At that point, we were ready to develop a visual language system, create a HiFi design, and ultimately, a HiFi prototype. User tested and approved, the app currently exists as a visual functional prototype.

wearable prototype
wearable prototype
wearable prototype

The Results

While there’s no product — yet — our prototype is an invaluable tool for Carlos. As he shares his concept with investors, they’ll be able to not only visualize, but also interact with the platform, so they’ll gain a full understanding of its features and functionality. Once the funding is in place, we’ll move forward into another refinement of the prototype — and then, we’ll engineer and release it.

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