Primary Caregiver User Research

  • User Research
Elderly mother looking at adult daughter while smiling and holding hands.

My team was tasked with researching user healthcare experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. My role was to design a survey, conduct user interviews and analyze our results. Through an initial research canvas of 25 survey responses and 8 user interviews my analysis revealed a pattern of problems among primary caregivers. Primary caregivers are often the adult child of elderly parents, new moms or a trusted adult in a patients life advocating for their healthcare needs and well being.


Manny - User Researcher, Data Analyst

Anh - Story Teller

Lucie - Data Visualizer


Google Forms, Google Docs, Figma, Notion

Who is the primary caregiver?

A close friend, loved one, or trusted adult in the dependent's life. They often live with or check-in on the dependent frequently to ensure their safety and quality of life.

Triangular stakeholder map showing the relationship between caregiver, dependent, and care provider.

Who is the dependent?

Often an elderly parent or child who needs help managing their healthcare related visits as a patient. They have varying degrees of autonomy and may not be completely dependent on their primary caregiver.

Who is the care provider?

The dependent's doctors, nurses, medical staff and other healthcare institutions. The care provider often works with the primary caregiver to schedule appointments, arrange transportation, or relay medical information.

Research Methodology

Our research approach involved a mix of qualitative interviews and quantitative survey's.

Canvas recent healthcare users

Screenshots of COVID healthcare user experience survey and some sample responses.
  1. Develop general healthcare experience survey canvas.
  2. Interview 8 users with recent healthcare experiences.
  3. Synthesize 25 survey responses with interviews.

Our research canvas showed that despite the pandemic, 62.5% of recent healthcare experiences were not related to COVID. Of those recent experiences 100% were for routine primary healthcare or appointments. With these findings the team decided to focus our research efforts on problem patterns amongst 2 user I interviewed who we identified as primary caregivers.

Focusing on primary caregivers

  1. Interview 2 primary caregivers with recent healthcare experiences.
  2. Followup survey with specific questions regarding the primary caregiver experiences with their dependent's healthcare providers.
  3. Analyze data and identify user pain points.

Key Insights

  • Primary caregivers are powerful medical advocates for their loved ones.
  • Primary caregivers emphasized difficulty with scheduling appointments.
  • Primary caregivers become pseudo medical records between multiple healthcare providers.
4 responses to the survey question: "What is the hardest/easiest part about working with your dependents healthcare provider(s)?
4 responses to the survey question: "What is the best/worst part about setting up an appointment(s)?"

Pain Points

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Medical Records

Key Insight

Problems seem to stem from lack of coordination not communication.

As-is storyboard

by Anh Nguyen

Alena is a 22-year-old college student with a tight school schedule and the primary caregiver of her grandma Melina. Alena's grandmother Melina has a knee problem and can't drive but doesn't have any serious medical problems.

Storyboard sketch with 2 frames showing a phone calling the health center and a student calendar with classes and meeting times

Alena calls the Health Center to set up an appointment for her grandma - Melina. Unfortunately, her class schedule has some overlaps so Alena couldn't drive her to the appointments.

Storyboard sketches with frame 1 showing a house, car, and health center. Frame 2 shows a doctor facing 2 characters in an office, the old patient and young caregiver

Alena set up a driver to pick up her grandma and planned to show up as soon as she finished with her classes. During the visit, Alena always makes sure to translate all the information to her grandma, as well as communicate with the health provider about Melina's medical profile.

Storyboard sketches showing the young caregiver asking questions to the doctor.

She asked questions. informed concerns. She's also taking charge of the prescriptions.

2 storyboard frames showing a calendar at the health center and the old patient walking to a car with the younger caregiver

After most visits, Alena would stay for a little longer to schedule follow-up appointments as well as take some notes. And she would drive her grandma home.

Mapping the current experience

My research insights were shared with my team and used to produce an as-is experience map.

User experience map of the caregiver setting up multiple appoints with their dependent and care providers, visualizing their feelings, thinkings, and doings throughout the process.

As-is experience map by Lucie Ortega

Potential Opportunities

  • Synchronized calendar for caregivers, dependents, and care providers that could suggest appointment times based on availability.
  • Create a dependent/patient unified medical profile that they can give care providers access too.
  • Design a medical record sharing service between care providers.
  • Have the primary caregiver designate a “back-up” caregiver when they are unable to be present during a visit.
  • Speed dating/interviews to hire a caregiver who fits their needs.

Next Steps

  1. Research adjacent users and stakeholders like dependents and care providers.
  2. Validate problem patterns between all users.
  3. Conceptualize solutions that meet everyone's needs.

What I learned

The best user research is driven by asking the right questions and empathizing with users, not searching for a solution.

Surveying users before interviewing them can help craft better interview questions and ultimately better research insights.

Copyright © 2022
Manny Ikomi