Empathy for a Web-Portal on an Incurable Illness

In a pitch BGA Group presented a relaunch of a portal on pulmonary hypertension. With around 30 to 50 patients per million people, pulmonary hypertension is a relatively rare disease. Even though the illness can still not be cured, medication can considerably improve life expectancy and quality of life. Due to the low awareness and unspecific symptoms the illness is often not diagnosed until late.


The challenge was to create a content concept that does not trivialize the consequences of the incurable illness but still encourages patients to face life. In a first phase I applied design thinking principles in secondary user research to develop empathy for patients and their families. It quickly became clear that the majority of patients is well informed and receives a good medical treatment. But the research also revealed typical everyday problems that patients have to deal with. From these insights meaningful functionality could be derived for the new portal.

Design Thinking for a patient portal with meaningful functionalities.

More than before the portal offers personal stories and tips for everyday challenges such as recommendations on nutrition, a checklist for social issues or a bio weather forecast. A risk test that checks for typical symptoms, pre-existing conditions and other risk factors is to encourage participants to discuss possible symptoms with a qualified physician instead of postponing the consultation for too long.


The increased patient orientation also reflects in a modified information architecture that consolidates information. For example information on centers of excellence and self-help groups are merged into a single interactive map or the glossary is integrated as tooltip instead of as a separate page.


Interactive infographics liven up the content and make the complex information more comprehensible. A later extension to the portal could be a medical area which only health personnel could access through a Doc-Check login. In that area, relevant news could be published, physicians could obtain patient information material or could earn CME points for participation in online courses on pulmonary hypertension.


The portal strives to feature reliable up-to-date information on the illness and to give patients the feeling that they are not alone.

Agency // BGA Group

Client // Biopharmaceutical company

Year // 2010

Role // Research, Content Concept, Creative Direction