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How might we predict a disease early enough so that its progression can be impeded or even prevented?
Pathological Speech Processing, NLP

How might we predict a disease early enough so that its progression can be impeded or even prevented?

  • The project details are confidential, I'll explain only the basic design approach and will not name any further outcome. You can read more on the Boehringer Ingelheim website

  • Client (Year): Boehringer Ingelheim (BIX) (2018/19)
  • AI/Tech: Natural Language Processing
  • Design: UX/UI Design & User Research
  • Industry: Healthcare

Developing a digital biomarker to identify early-stage dementia

I was very fortunate to join this exciting research project for one year. The pharma company aimed to find digital biomarkers for mental and neurodegenerative diseases. We supported the Product Owner on this exciting innovation journey with a mixed team BIX and Deloitte team members. We shaped the product vision for a quick and cheap dementia risk assessment.

Situation /Challenge

The EU expects 18.7 million of its citizens to have age-related cognitive diseases by 2050. The symptoms usually develop slowly; however, in most cases, the disease is only treated when the consequences of dementia are already too far advanced.


How can we identify patients early enough that the progression of the disease can be impeded or prevented? Speech could be used as a cheap, digital biomarker for cognitive disease detection.

My data science colleagues presenting their results

Approach /My contribution

I will not describe any strategy decision or project outcome. I will, however, explain the rough UX approach of the project and my role in the project. We were two UX designers in the team, and I enjoyed the collaboration. The project was big enough to split the work. I focused on the patient information and GP dashboard, and my co-worker designed the digital test. Together we designed the service approach and conducted the user research. In the pilot project, I stayed as the only designer in the team and redesigned the test, and included user research.

User research

User Research Lab in Frankfurt - Interviewing GP's

In co-creation workshops, we collected the different viewpoints of our Subject Matter Experts, which helped to shape the concepts. We conducted qualitative and quantitative research. In the first phase, we were supported by the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute to identify the market demand and user touchpoints for our automated disease risk assessment. Once we had the prototype ready, we conducted regular usability tests on our own to test the user interaction.


Three digital endpoints - User information website, app with digital test and GP diagnostic software

We designed and developed visual prototypes and tested perception and usability with the target audience. We developed a robust new test assessment for collecting meaningful speech samples from patients in a healthy comparison group, for which I illustrated the exercise and defined the user interaction. We also designed an informational website for patients and relatives, an app for GPs displaying the diagnostic results, and guidelines for the first clinical trial, which help the clinic staff through the test phase of the product.

Agile development

Sprint Planning-KanBan Board

We had a great team and worked hard. Our core SCRUM team consisted of 13 members, and various stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts supported us along the journey.

Startup funding

Whitemotion filming the pitch movie - 2.3 min clips

Apart from the exciting research and product development, I supported the product owner in preparing presentations for various investment rounds. We created a pitch clip, infographics, and slides that explain the value proposition, market demand, and product research achievements.

Thank you,

PSP team, especially to Dr. Christoph Eschenfelder, the Product Owner of PSP and project initiator, for this great collaboration.

Here you can read more: https://www.bix-digital.com/our-work/psp/ I placed my screens on the mockup by Anthony Boyd