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Easier Access to Student Medical Services

Responsive Web Research and Design Project


Stephanie Wang

Zheng Yao


Responsive Web Design

Journey Mapping

Storyboarding & Speed Dating

Usability Testing

My Role

Researcher & Interaction



Interaction Design 


The Challenge

CMU Medical Services is an organization that assists the CMU community with any medical-related issue, from a broken bone to simply needing an ice pack. Currently, to reach the service, a student must call the campus police phone number, and medical services members will arrive at the student’s physical location. 

83% of Carnegie Mellon students we interviewed mentioned that they are either unfamiliar with CMU EMS or would not utilize the resource unless there was an extremely serious emergency. 

How can we create a way for students to better take advantage of CMU Medical Services?

Research Suggestions: Overview

1. Create an online messenger platform where members of the CMU community can chat with trained members of the CMU Medical Services WITHOUT:

  • Calling CMU EMS, which sends a paramedics team to their locations.

  • Physically going to the hospital. 


The platform is geared towards minor medical situations, such as a stomach ache or an ongoing cough. The platform can be used on mobile, desktop, or tablet.   

2. Utilize Freshman Orientation to introduce the feature, as freshmen are more prone to identify resources and use them in comparison to upperclassmen.

The Research Process




6 CMU students

3 members of CMU Medical Services 


4 members of CMU

Police Force


CMU Students

  • Unfamiliar with CMU EMS

  • "I would just call 911 instead"

Medical Services 

  • Receive very few calls, wish they received more

CMU Police

  • Not as relevant to helping students access medically-related help

How can we address the pain points of both CMU students and CMU Medical Services?


In order to further empathize with the users and members of CMU Medical Services, the team decided to further analyze their actions, feelings, thoughts, and pain points.





We were shocked to find very few overlapping pain points between the two. We originally wrongly assumed that the pain points would mostly occur during the physical interaction between students and medical service providers. Instead, this interaction began when students first arrived on campus--whether it was hearing about CMU Medical Services during Freshman Orientation or through word of mouth.

We went to speak with stakeholders again.


New insights: There was no trust issue between students and CMU Medical Services. Because the service was supported by CMU, students assumed it was qualified.

CMU students assume CMU Medical Services is meant for emergencies only. This stigma came from the service’s full name “CMU Emergency Medical Services”. Students don’t know that they can actually just call to get an icepack.

Opportunity: How can we change the reputation of/knowledge about CMU Medical Services as well as increase the ease of access to the service? 


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Additional information was added to the beginning of the user journey map after going back and speaking to stakeholders again. 


In order to consolidate the information we learned, we created two representative personas whose needs we are addressing.

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 User (CMU Student)

Mike avoids unnecessary hassles because time is a valuable resource for him. He's not fully knowledgeable about the resources at CMU and does not actively learn about themHe feels like he can "tough out" any medical issues until it's necessary that he see a specialist.

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Service Provider (Medical Services Member)

Remi is a senior at CMU.  She values the safety of students at CMU and desires more direct medical experience. However, in the organization, she feels underutilized because very few calls come in when she's on shift. 

How can we explore the overlap between observed and perceived needs?


We created 6 different scenarios and tested the storyboards on CMU students. We found:

  • The CMU Medical Services website has very little information currently. However, students would never have the motivation to access the website in the first place

  • Users really resonated with the idea of a lower-stakes communication with CMU Medical Services where they did not have to call (especially the same phone number as CMU Campus Police) and wait for them to arrive at the student’s physical location.

Storyboard that resonated the most with user needs:

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1. Create a website where users can message the members of CMU EMS.

This increases ease of access for students to the service as well as utilizes members of the service more.


2. Start from Freshman Orientation.

Freshman Orientation is when freshmen learn all the resources they have access to on campus. During orientation, freshmen are the most engaged and excited to learn about their university. Freshmen are also more prone to identify resources and actually use them, as upperclassmen assume they already know all the resources on their campuses. Currently, at orientation, CMU Emergency Medical Services is introduced as a number to call when absolutely necessary. Changing the way the service is portrayed to students and explicitly mentioning that the service is for ALL medically related issues may change the way students at the university utilize the service. 


3. A video and demo of the live chat during orientation so students know they have this resource at their disposal. This video can be used for other trainings as well--staff, graduate programs, etc.



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Usability Testing Insights (incorporated into the next iteration):

  • Users did not care about the year or major of the EMS members, but only the members' experience within EMS and their gender. 

  • The scrolling motion on the mobile version is not very efficient for our users.


Users have the ability to select which EMS member they would like to interact with. They have the choice to stay anonymous and provide feedback at the end of their chat. 

Medical Service members have unique views on their own accounts. 

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EMS members can track how many people they've helped on the chat and how many hours they have been on shift in total

Users and Medical Services members can use on desktop or tablet too.

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mike liu.jpg
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Value Created

User, Student

Easy access 

Increase in knowledge about CMU Medical Services

More control and choice over assistance (accessible on any device and can choose member on-shift to chat with) 

Service provider, EMS member 

Ability to help a larger number of individuals

More opportunities for self-tracking

Can help people on-the-go due to flexibility of the platform

Key Takeaways

1. Researchers often begin with many assumptions and biases.

Our team started off the project with a few assumptions about the users and service providers of CMU Medical services, especially because we are all CMU students. However, it was important to keep in mind that we are not the users. Separating myself from being the user was a challenge. In order to do this, our team made sure to interview students who were strangers to us to prevent bias. In addition, before interacting with users and service providers, I would pretend I was learning about a completely different university (not CMU) and step into the mindset of me learning about people and situations I was not familiar with.

​2. Research is rarely a linear process. It's okay to pivot. 

Research is an iterative process, no matter the stage the team is in. Many times, teams will go back into the field to learn new information about users and service providers, and the direction of projects will change depending on findings. Research is about being flexible, open-minded, and patient!

It is okay to not have all the answers and change your research direction as you learn more about the problem space.

Next Steps

My teammates and I had a lot of fun pitching our solution to our professors and peers, but we also received great feedback for changes we can consider moving forward.

More user testing and more iterations. 

In the course, we were under a time constraint and only conducted speed dating and user testing with users. However, this is problematic as we did not conduct these studies with service providers and therefore, assumed the value created for them. Moving forward, we plan to conduct speed dating and user testing with service providers as well. We will also conduct more user testing and usability testing with the live chat prototypes to continue improving the platform. Last, we hope to interact with a more representative group of users as there are many factors that can affect students' opinions of medical services that our team needs to keep in mind.

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