Our mission? Aid our clients in the creation of a decision aid for end-stage heart failure patients who have been recommended for an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device). Our digital tools will be built specifically for senior citizens and their caretaker(s), who would have the LVAD for life and will experience significant changes in their daily routine. After the semester, they will be used to further research in patient decision making. The decision aid will include:

Hypertext FAQ

To provide a starting point for questions users may have about the LVAD and how quality of life could change.

Search Button

For when users have a specific question they want to ask and may need to get in touch with an expert.


Both patient and the potential caregiver will be able to view the patient’s prognostic information to get a better idea of how an LVAD could improve or worsen their quality of life

Easy Access

The decision aid will be available online for both patient and the potential caregiver to view whenever and wherever they are.

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Week 15 – Festival

Week 15 aka ETC Festival Week aka the last week of development before finals. After what happened during softs, the team really got to work to make the most of the last few days we had.

Our programmers have gotten our website for the most part functional. We were able to showcase it at this week’s festival with more success then what we had expected. While the project isn’t as flashy, fun, and/or interactive as other projects, people were drawn to the real world applications. Professionals, parents, kids, and senior citizens that visited were all impressed and wanted to see the app become a reality. We even got into contact with a visitor from the TechShop that was interested in helping the project.

Taking the advice of a faculty member on approaching a senior citizen apt building in the city for playtests, we were able to plan one for Friday. This would happen after our playtest with the Osher Learning Institute. We had sent both organizations sign-up sheets and waited for playtesters to put their name down. Despite getting lots of interest from the people we talked to during the process of setting these up, no one signed up.

While it was disappointing that we got no playtesters, this doesn’t really affect the design or implementation at the current time. Any significant changes to better the app at this point needs to be made based on observations of actual patients using it. The faculty members (who were also senior citizens) that playtested for us were healthy individuals. The ability to navigate and understand the content could be affected from common ailments end-stage heart failure patients experience: decreased mobility, difficulty breathing, etc. Our clients are still interested in working with the ETC and ourselves for the remainder of the research beyond the semester. Once these playtests happen, we can aid them in the right direction.

The remainder of the development for the app now consists of fixing any bugs that are still present. These should (hopefully) be fixed by the time our finals presentation rolls around.

Week 14 – Softs

Last week was Softs (the last informal update teams give to the ETC faculty with the chance to look at the deliverable) and Code Blue as a team learned two very important lessons.


  • One comment the faculty had was that we could have done a much better job at arranging earlier playtesting. They understood the challenge of finding playtesters in our age range and that the groups of senior citizens we had contacted wanted a much more advanced notice before the playtest than what we could have given them (we had contacted them throughout November only to be told that the earliest playtests we could get were right before finals; much too late to implement any changes into our final deliverable). If we had wanted a playtest in November, we should have contacted them at least right before October. Back then, we didn’t have a good idea of what we were going to build.

    That being said, the faculty pointed out that with our target age range, we could have called the senior citizen groups back in September saying we wanted to playtest something that we knew they needed to be able to use. We didn’t need to know what we were building yet.

  • The purpose of Softs was to let ETC faculty have a chance to really look into the deliverable. We planned to go over the changes we made and challenges we faced since softs and we walked-through the app with them. The walk-through was due to two things:
  • We had not gotten access to the data for the prognosis info until recently so that information was not present in the app
  • We had not had time to implement the recent changes we had made to the UI and design


Because of these two things, the app was essentially a skeleton waiting for data to be plugged in. With a walkthrough, we could show the faculty the important parts without having to explain over and over again why the content wasn’t present. This did not work.
Instead of having a good presentation like we thought, the ETC faculty said that we had spent too much time presenting and not enough time showing the deliverable. What we were presenting should have been saved for Finals and the faculty didn’t have enough time to grasp what we were building. Additionally, because we had presented the deliverable and not had them play with it themselves, we have given the impression that something is wrong with the deliverable itself. Code Blue needs to implement the last design changes and update the content fast enough (to the point that people can use it) so that we can invite faculty back to fix their outlook of us.

As for constructive criticism, we got some good pointers on making the UI easier for seniors to handle and where we could set up playtests before finals. These include:

  1. Adding the sidebar menu we see in the home, hypertext, search, my info, and prognosis info pages to the video/text page
  2. Making sure buttons that do the same action are in the same spot always
  3. A reference to a senior community apartment building in Pittsburgh that we could call in and set up a playtest in the lobby

Some of the other suggestions we got like adding subtitles to the video were good ones to have but are not able to be achieved with the time we have left. Those we will be adding to our documentation and suggestions to do in the future that we will be handing off to our client.

Week 13 – Quick updates

Not much to report this week, since we don’t have core hours on Tuesday, and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are part of our Thanksgiving break and most of our team has left Pittsburgh.

We had a quick advisor meeting on Tuesday to run through the new UI. Scott was very disappointed that the UI has not been completely implemented over our existing code, which was a bummer but we understand where he’s coming from. With any luck, there won’t be any more changes to the UI so we can focus on finishing this up in time.

We’ve started working on our team videos. Interviews (both team and client) are completed, and B-roll footage is mostly done too. We’ve a rough cut of the 30s version, and an idea of what we want for the 3 minute version. Both videos should be completed by the end of next week.

We’ve finally gotten permission to organize a playtest with the older folks at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Unfortunately, the playtest is on December 9, the Friday before Finals, so we will not be able to integrate our findings into the app. However, we will still be analyzing the results and giving suggestions to our clients as part of our hand over package to them.

Happy Thanksgiving week everybody!

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