Project Empathy: Living with a Chronic Disease

“Everything is so heavy.

Your body just feels…dead.”


117 million people

117 million people, or approximately half of all American adults, live with a chronic health condition. Diseases such as diabetes, rheumatic arthritis, and multiple sclerosis exact a hefty emotional and physical toll, and profoundly alter the lives of sufferers. These diseases do not target people of a particular age or lifestyle – they can strike anyone at any time.

Since 1991, Metaphase has conducted hundreds of user studies for our clients in the chronic disease management space. By interviewing the people that live with these conditions, we help our clients understand the physical, emotional, and cognitive hurdles their users face every day. Patients must become accustomed to frequent and often times painful injections.

This up close and personal engagement with end users ensures that our clients’ product development teams are designing with empathy and dignity in mind.


Ethographic engagement

One-on-one interviews and in-home visits are the coremethods we employ. Direct interactions provide our team with a window into end users’ lives and challenges. We see how they struggle with simple tasks most people take for granted. We see the array of medications they must take multiple times per day and how it interrupts their daily activities. We see and hear their

sadness as they talk about favorite places or activities that are now out of reach because of their condition.

Our team documents all of this with “Day in the Life” timelines, video clips, and visually rich reports that give our clients a tangible glimpse of their users.


Shaping  + Informing Design Requirements

Through the in-home ethnographies and competitive analysis, Metaphase provides ergonomic and design guidelines that shape product design requirements with users in mind.

In addition to device requirements, this analysis makes it easier to develop better instructional content such as IFUs and quick start guides, that help end users more effectively use the products as they follow a step-by-step process.


Using this approach, we bring dignity to patients and increase sales for our clients, with glucometers and finger lancing devices that take into account how disease impacts human performance and emotion.

Metaphase’s work on the Bayer Ascensia
system increase sales by 243% and won a
Business week Design of the Decade award.

Metaphase’s work on the Bayer Ascensia
system increase sales by 243% and won a
Business week Design of the Decade award.