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Emotion: a new practice, patient care, and research tool

by Onyee Chan, MD

To capture the often underutilized patient’s emotion to 1) improve quality of care, 2) provide physicians with new information to enhance communication and decision, and 3) assess quality of life.

San Jose, CA Health Information Technology

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About this project

The problem we solve:
Patients often feel that physicians do not spend enough time with them, while in fact, similar amount or more has been invested. According to a study by Robbins et al. on patient satisfaction, physicians spending time on educating patients (p<= 0.001) and discussing treatment effects (p<= 0.01) correlate to patient satisfaction. Physicians are busy with increasing amount of work needed to be done in the same allocated time. Thus, the amount of time spent talking with patients has dropped. Physicians shortage is expected to worsen the situation. Patient satisfaction can be improved by building a relationship via understanding and trust. Lack of empathy and understanding can lead to patient dissatisfaction, resulting in poor patient loyalty, outcome, and income loss. Our solution helps physicians better understand patients’ emotional needs, resulting in better communication, empathy, earned trust, research opportunites, ultimately better patient compliance, satisfaction, and outcomes.

About our solution:
Our solution keys in on: 1) ubiquitous mobile health, and 2) innovative information technology. It is an App that allows patient to indicate emotional state that will be shared with parties that have the need and permission to know. The App will be available for download once patient is checked-in. Patients will be encouraged to update their status often. The operation requires simply launching the App and picking an emoji (with description) by touching it. This simple operation is fit for users of most ages. The App allows physicians to understand patients’ emotions, affording this often overlooked aspect of patient care. It can help physicians provide medical consultation with sensitivities and potentially prepare patients for treatments in addition to novel research opportunities. The improved communication, empathy, and personal touch can result in improved patient satisfaction and in turn, better clinical outcomes, medical advice compliance, and physicians-patients’ partnership.
Progress to date: We have researched literature in the field and surveyed friends and family to confirm and solidify the problem statement. We have spent extensive time developing our conceptual solution and testing it with hypothetical scenarios. From a technical perspective, we have put together our team of an internal medicine resident and a seasoned software engineer to tackle the challenge of coming up with a robust App that is suitable for clinical deployment. In addition, we have investigated different platforms for the implementation of the solution. Specifically, we have evaluated the possibility of using Apple Research Kit, its security features, and phone-based informed consent to allow smooth and efficient operation. We intend to further secure consultants and advisors who are experts in their respective fields, and consult team leader’s institutional internal review board to help further develop this solution, ensuring the quality, compliance, and practicality.

About Our Team

Dr. Onyee Chan, MD
Internal Medicine, Resident
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Medical school: The University of Arizona College of Medicine
Bio: Prior to medicine, I studied computer science and worked as a software engineer for several years. I am currently an internal medicine resident at the University of Arizona/Banner University Medical Center. I enjoy keeping myself abreast in technologies and always want to find ways to use cutting edge technologies to empower physicians, patients, and improve clinical practices.
Hospital Affiliation: University of Arizona, Banner University Medical Center - Tucson
Title: PGY 2

About Team Members

Mary Tsow
Technical Staff, BS
Biography: I was trained in computer science and have been involved in the software industry for more than 10 years. During this time, I have worked for several large corporations as a software engineer. In addition, I was involved in a startup company where we developed a software to allow communication and connections among pet owners. In the startup, I was the technical lead in the project and found the opportunity to create something from ideas to a tool that can empower others to be truly rewarding.

About Our Company

Location: San Jose, California
Product stage: idea
Sales: Working on it
Employees: 1-2

How We Help Patients

Our innovation works by allowing physicians and patients to build a trusting relationship which encourages patient cooperation and treatment adherence. Clinical outcomes are expected to improve with medication adherence. Furthermore, studies have suggested that pre-procedure mood correlates with outcomes. When it comes to living longer and healthier lives, patients’ trust and adherence to physicians’ recommendations play an important role. In other words, a lifestyle change has long lasting benefits. Lifestyle modification is hard, and it is even harder if patients do not trust their physicians or do not want to cooperate. Our innovation helps build this trusting relationship through 1) better understanding of the emotions of the patients, and 2) allow physicians to better design communication methods and treatments according to patients’ emotions. Ultimately, patients will be more satisfied knowing that their feelings are heard which can lead to better outcomes.

How We Help Education

Literatures supports that emotions can affect a patient’s compliance and medical outcomes. Nonetheless, there have not been too many well-designed systematic studies on this topic. Our innovation will bring a ubiquitous tool to verify this belief in a larger scale in a cost effective way. Individual physician can confirm in their own practices with reported hypotheses. In addition, the innovation’s ability to efficiently track emotions of patients will allow research to be performed on 1) quality of life quantification, 2) hard to get long-term survival data, 3) patient satisfaction analytics, 4) clinical (particularly procedure) outcomes. In the future, we will pursue artificial intelligence to perform automatic tracking and pattern recognition (such as correlation of emotion and disease progression or clinical outcome) with alarms if necessary. This is especially important if the system will be widely adopted with big data flowing in at a fast rate over extended period of time.

How We Help Physicians

Our innovation can help physicians better understand the main worries of their patients. Therefore, allowing physicians to address their patients’ emotional needs in a personal and effective way. This can provide a more personal feel for the patient, establish trust between the patient and physician, and over time, loyalty towards the practice. This trust and understanding between patients and physicians can also result in better compliance and motivation, leading to better success of the practice and patient satisfaction. In addition, the physicians are afforded a window to the previously unexplored emotional state of the patients over time, helping them to adjust treatments when necessary to improve clinical outcomes. The effective, low cost, and flexible features of the innovation allow physicians to get first hand emotional feedbacks from their patients to improve the customized approaches in their practices.

Challenge Mission

Mission: Our innovation brings new information to physicians in a dynamic way, allowing physicians to provide better care, achieve better physicians-patients’ partnerships, and better patient satisfaction.
Use of funds: The funding on this project will be used mainly in development the code for the App, in consultant fees, and in purchasing necessary development tools and fees. The breakdown of the cost will include estimations of: 1) code development of the App of 180 hours, 2) consultant fees of 20 hours, and 3) development tools purchasing and fees at $2000. Code development cost will mostly consist of labor and service cost for the software engineer. Consultant costs will include medical, software, and regulatory consultants. Internal review board requirement is considered as part of the consultant cost as well. The development tools will include a low end Macbook Air, developer license fee for 1 year, an iPhone, and graphics software if necessary. If the budget proved to be inadequate, used Macbook and iPhone will be purchased instead. In addition, software engineer’s paid hours may be reduced and volunteered hours may be used to supplement the needs.
Intellectual Property Status: We have not filed any intellectual property on this project. The software development tools that we are using are available to developers, and we do not anticipate any intellectual property issues.
FDA Status: Currently, we do not have FDA clearance plan. We shall continue to investigate and address this need should it becomes evident that FDA clearance is necessary.
Personal Message: Please join us in this effort to provide an unprecedented tool to address an unmet need in patient care and satisfaction. Emotion is a big part of who we are, and studies have shown correlation with clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and motivation. Your support will enable us to further our vision to help patients and physicians through innovations, research, and passions!


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    05/19/2016 Marvin Forovsky - Concerned Citizen

    Liked the project.

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    05/03/2016 Alex Fair - Investor

    Liked the project.













Onyee Chan, MD
The University of Arizona College of Medicine

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