Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Accelerate the growth of British digital health startup uMotif.


“We are a much more focused, confident, and clear organisation, truly prepared to scale sales, delivery and clinical impact.”—Bruce Hellman, CEO, uMotif


A new strategy to focus only on oncology and cardiology, clearer product differentiation through interface and UX design of app and website, and visual redesign and rebrand.


Human Centered Design—A Pathway to Patient Centricity — Applied Clinical Trials Magazine

From leeches to gene therapy, how we treat sickness has changed beyond recognition over the centuries. But one question asked by ancient healers and modern doctors alike remains the same: “How are you feeling?”

“We’ve had the ‘Quantified Self’ for a number of years—sensors that measure steps, weight, blood pressure,” said Bruce Hellman, cofounder of UK-based digital health startup uMotif. “But by only focusing on the quantitative, we miss the whole picture of a person.”

Hellman cofounded uMotif in 2012, inspired by the self-awareness he gained when tracking his sleep after his baby was born. uMotif gives people the tools to record and track their mood, sleep, and clinically relevant symptoms like dizziness or breathlessness on their mobile phone app, and share the resulting data with their doctor and care team to better inform appointments, and treatment plans.

Named as one of 50 UK "scale-ups" that could grow to over £100m in revenue by not-for-profit organisation Silicon Valley Comes to the UK, uMotif’s software and apps have been deployed in dozens of hospitals, and profiled in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The London Times. With a view to scaling strategically, Hellman applied to IDEO Europe’s first Startup in Residence, a three-month-long program to accelerate companies through design thinking. “We brought the whole of uMotif to IDEO: product, organisation, branding, approach, and business model,” said Hellman. “We were keen to re-consider just about everything.”

During the residency, the uMotif team embedded with IDEO’s London studio to work closely with an eclectic team of interaction, business, and communication designers, and design researchers, to explore every aspect of the business.

The team found that although uMotif’s organic growth had reflected the rapidly expanding digital health market, the offer was somewhat fragmented as a result. In response, uMotif decided to tighten its sales focus from 14 branches of medicine to just two: oncology and cardiology (with mental health as an R&D area).

In-depth interviews with patients, nurses, doctors, and executives revealed a clear opportunity: “simple symptom tracking for people going through an acute or serious period in their health, to activate and extend the patient-care team relationship,” Hellman says. The focus switched from the Quantified Self to the Qualified Self, coined by the team to reference uMotif’s unique approach to measuring how people feel.

Designers set about reconfiguring and prototyping aspects of the brand, product, business, and organisational model for delivery. Whereas the original uMotif product had been designed with a single clinician in mind, the team designed a new dashboard catering for the reality of modern healthcare—multiple caregivers.

Ultimately, uMotif’s offer is not just about helping patients understand their own health; it’s about providing meaningful insights that enable them to have richer conversations with their care teams—allowing them to work together to improve care plans and outcomes.

“We are a much more focused, confident, and clear organisation, truly prepared to scale sales, delivery and clinical impact,” says Hellman, referring to the impact of their participation in the Startup in Residence program. Now back in its own headquarters, the team takes with it a toolkit of IDEO systems and processes with which to run their business and to apply to new projects, products, and services.

“Health systems around the world are quickly adopting digital channels,” he said. “We aim to be at the forefront of this inevitable shift, using design thinking to put people at the centre of their care, improving quality of life, treatment outcomes, and healthcare experience.”

uMotif: Sam's Story.

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