A platform to help travelers get connected to medical aid while abroad


It was important that our service operated in both the digital and physical spaces in order to connect people in need to real resources. Our challenge was to navigate across cultures and various health-related scenarios in order to design a trusted service that brought assistance to users. 

problem space

Tasked to 'create a novel service', our team narrowed down from the infinite number of possibilities to an experience we all shared -- traveling alone as a woman. After brainstorming, we pivoted our problem-space to the healthcare of travelers after realizing the wider user-pool we could research and prototype with.  

Timeline | 9 Weeks 

My Role 

I took a key role in the running and planning the research sessions used to inform our service. I brainstormed different service methods we could use, help design the make tools, contacted participants, and helped run all sessions. In addition, I created the service deliverables including the storyboard, journey maps, service blueprint, and physical branding documents. 


Working with four other design students across the graduate and undergraduate levels, our team designed this work as our final project for Design for Service, taught by professor Molly Steenson

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digital touchpoints

The sick user firsts uses the AidAbroad platform to contact a consultant, who is then able to recommend to the user a series of possible next steps.

For instance, the sick user could ask to be connected to a local Aid, which is a service personnel contracted with AidAbroad. This staff member can provide assistance in various ways, including: coordinating transportation to the nearest medical facility , translating symptoms to a doctor, or providing assistance with filling prescriptions.


Physical touchpoints

If the user decides they would like to receive physical help, they are walked through the process of choosing and receiving their Aid. Before the Aid's arrival, the user can pre-determine the action they would like to move forward with by using their digital app. 

In this case, we prototyped the scenario of an Aid assisting with the transportation of a user and the translation of medical forms.  



User Research

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Our first instinct was to focus on the problem-space of women traveling alone. However, in our initial brainstorm, we decided to refocus our mission to 'travelers falling ill while abroad'. This was largely due to the latter issue allowing us access to a larger pool of users we could interview and test with. 

What we learned: 

Pivot. Our initial approach was not the best fit, so we quickly reframed to a problem that afforded us more resources. 

Perspective. While we might have thought of 'women traveling alone' as common-shared experience, we quickly reconsidered that it may be a privilege reserved for the few. The desire to work in a more diverse space also fueled our change of direction. 




We sent out a survey to get a sense of people’s general impressions of dealing with health issues when traveling and provide us with some general information about our problem space. 

What we learned:

Need. 80% of the respondents had gotten sick while traveling abroad, and there was a large variation in levels of seriousness they reported. 

Emotion. Most people were moderately distressed when sick while abroad.

Self-Treatment. Most people waited the illness out, or bought medicine to treat themselves.

Barriers. Most people had some degree of difficulty in getting medical help. Lack of information and language barriers were the most cited problems.


Role Playing

Originally testing the validity of an idea that allowed you to connect with a doctor over the phone,  we assumed the role of a doctor in order to better understand how a user is able to describe and navigate through this imagined scenario. 

What we learned:

Language. Even in their native language, users felt ill-equipped to describe their symptoms properly enough to feel confident they received an accurate diagnosis.

Hesitation. Many users felt hesitant to believe a distant doctor's diagnosis. After the phone call ended, users described feeling unsure of what to do next, or how to follow through with the doctor's recommendations.

Privacy. Users felt uncomfortable with the service accessing medical records. 




We outlined a few different scenarios that our service could take and put these in front of people to get their reactions. We alternated the scenarios based on their geographical location, the sickness or injury of the user, and the type of care they received.

What we learned: 

Connection. Users responded positively to human-interactions and felt safer if with the presence of a companion if they were verified by the service. 

Translation. One of the most well-received concepts described an assistant that could help with the translation of symptoms, management of finding/filling prescriptions, and navigation throughout the overall health-care process.  



Both structured interviews (with specific scenarios, narratives, and prompts) and open-ended interviews allowed us to hear about the challenges and decision making behind being sick abroad.

What we learned: 

Local Host. In the times people spoke about being sick and receiving help, a local host or local contact was always mentioned as a player that provided trustworthy and knowledgeable information. People cited hotel concierges, Airbnb hosts, local friends, tour guides, ect.,  as examples of these contacts.

Self-treatment. People often described an attempt to self treat before seeking professional help.  

Insurance. Multiple people described issues with payment or medical insurance compounded by language issues. This was one of the most challenging scenarios described. 


User Walkthroughs

We presented users with low-fidelity screens and asked to them walk us through how they might use the service by sorting the options to relflect thier user journey.  

What we learned: 

Comfort. Users felt more comfortable if they were able to have share phone-call with a service member (instead of messaging). 

Trust.  Users expressed concerned that a video-chat or phone call with a medical professional could accurately diagnose sicknesses.  


further Development

Designing for Trust

A critical touchpoint of our service involved users interacting with an Aid, a feature built from feedback in our initial user research. However, what builds trust are often not tangible things.

Curious about traits a user's gravitated towards in their Aides, we devised an acted-out experiment(bodystorming)  to see how participants responded to different staff profiles. 

What we learned: 

Age. Users valued age and perceived older staff (55+) to be more trustworthy. 

Residency. Users did not share a preference for natives vs non-natives as long as they had lived in the country for 3+ years. 

Experience. Users valued experienced natives over an aide that shared a similar background to the user. 

Also critical to this refinement was researching how trust is built in other digital-physical services. Some of our resources included:

How Airbnb Designs for Trust, Joe Gebbia
How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Eachtother, Wired Magazine  
Designing for Trust, Charlie Aufmann
Design Kit, IDEO
Universal Methods of Design, Hannington + Martin
Service Innovation Handbook, Lucy Kimbell


Choice Flows

As we prototyped, we wanted to learn how people would interact with the different physical and digital touch-points of the service and where there might be pain points that we could adjust to better fit the needs of our users.

What we learned: 

Decisions. People actually wanted less choice in their Aid and instead preferred to be assigned to someone who had already been chosen and vetted by the service.

Choice. It was critical for people to feel like they still had the option to change their Aid if they were uncomfortable with their first match.

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Proposition Refinement

A clearly defined proposition definition and problem-sphere allowed us to focus on our features and goals, as well as the stakeholders and systems involved needed to execute our service.

Original template available from Service Innovation Handbook, Lucy Kimbell

What we learned: 

Limits. It was clear that limits to the service must be set up. The liability of taking on users that were too sick, or grew sicker in the Aids care, became apparent when re-examining our problem deinition. 

Sensitivity. Deciding what kinds of sensitive information could be exchanged on this platform allowed us to set up parameteres regarding the trading of money and healthcare information. 





Buisness Canvas Model

Viewing our service through the business canvas model allowed us to imagine how the system would be supported and financed. 

What we learned: 

PartnersViewing services such as pharmacies, travel agencies, or hotels as potential business partners allowed us to investigate different revenue-generating business models.  

Money. A clearer understanding of the pricing structure had to be investigated. See below. 


service development


Service Blueprint


Stakeholder Map

Multiple User Journey Flows


Pricing Structure

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physical Identity



In our research about how services design for trust, we found that consistent and professional branding of both the physical and digital experiences is critical for gaining the trust of the user.

Because the interaction between the user and their Aid is such a critical touchpoint, we took great care in creating a specific style that communicates the following attributes: 

1) experience + knowledge
2) responsibility
3) comfort + care



In considering the functionality and needs of the Aid (both during their active time signed onto the app and in their off-time) we looked into creating a uniform that satisfies the following needs:

1) a clear visual identifier of AidAbroad  
2) 'on the go' pieces that could be worn over existing clothing or thrown on at a moments notice. 
3) practical clothing that does not obstruct the duties of the Aid. 




Combining attributes with needs. 

Blazer: Provides a unifying and professional look for liaisons without the stiffness of a complete uniform. This piece allows an Aid to blend into city life and can be worn over an existing outfit, mitigating the need for a complete change of clothes. 

Printed Silk Scarf: Provides the Aid with a unique identifier while still maintaining a professional and subtle look. Custom print of the AidAbroad pattern and color is further used for identification. This piece may be worn around the neck or as a pocket square. 



digital Identity 



We reflected our desired traits of professionalism, friendliness and approachability in our UI/UX through our choices in color schemes, simple buttons and clean interactions. Especially in the initial stages of getting help and connecting with an Aid, choices and options are simplified in order to cater to users who may be preoccupied with their own medical needs. 

We also drew inspiration from other brands (such as Oscar and Amwell) and in order to find examples of how to best strike the balance between a serious topic like healthcare, and the lightheartedness that allows a user to feel comfortable. 

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Originally, we began working off of the idea of putting the Aid Abroad “A”s together and the hospital “+” symbol, which then lead to further iterations of forming the A’s together in a way that resembled a paper airplane to symbolize travel and ease/friendliness. Typefaces were chosen based on the qualities of being modern-yet-friendly, and we found that a san-serif with a wide set worked better for our brand over more narrow ones.

Creating a unique pattern was also critical for our use in our Aid uniforms.