Horizon 2: Patient centred digital services

Empathetic patient care

Delivering patient care services for Boehringer Ingelheim.


Our work with Boehringer Ingelheim has seen us reinvigorate and relaunch two key patient services — Life with IPF and More Than Scleroderma. These services have been established to help patients and their families get access to the knowledge and care that BI’s experience can offer. To support them and to offer advice at every stage of their journey.

Bridging the information gap for patients and carers

Family-owned since it was established in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is today one of the pharmaceutical industry’s top 20 global companies.

A research-driven company with the goal of improving the health and quality of life of patients, their focus is on diseases for which no satisfactory treatment option exists to date – and consequently on the development of innovative therapies that can extend patients’ lives.

A lot of our work was done in Ingelheim with stakeholders across BI. Working collaboratively through early concepts before being digitised into a site structure and page designs.

ELSE and the Boehringer Ingelheim team mapping out the steps for a patient centered service

Every journey is different

Emotions change as well as needs.

Patient care websites tend to be a direct translation of the static content from leaflets and booklets. As such, they mainly offer general content for all patients and are designed to be read from start to finish, like a novel.

Our aim is to leverage the ability of digital to make a service more targeted to a patient’s current needs, allowing them to access the content they need now and pre-empt what they may need next.

Based on patient insight and case files, we created persona-led patient journey maps that covered all diagnosis stages — from experiencing symptoms to end-of-life care. Each persona enabled us to see the part of that journey that most affected them and how we might mitigate some of the negative feelings they would be going through, along with providing new opportunities to support them.

The team and I worked together in a truly collaborative manner for 12 months. The fastidious nature of their UX research and design methodology left no stone unturned in the drive to define, refine and produce a service that delivers true value to an audience underserved online.”

Senior International Digital Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim

Encourage patients to be proactive in their care

Designing Life with IPF

Idiopathic Pulmonary fibrosis is a rare condition affecting the lungs. The lung tissue becomes scared and makes breathing difficult.
It’s a fatal disease with a life span of 3-5 years and affects approximately 3 million people worldwide.

As far as I’m concerned, life doesn’t end with this… We still live a good life. We dine out, we travel to hotels, we enjoy life, and we socialise generally. I’d say don’t give up.

IPF Patient

Creating the design language

As part of the definition of the Life with IPF service, we created the brand and visual language. The concept for this was developed around one central thought — that there is still a quality of life to live after diagnosis. Photography became a powerful asset that helped us communicate support and confidence for those living with the condition. We wanted to depict everyday life by showing people interacting with one another, to show love and life rather than a visit to the consultant.

Three experience themes

There were three opportunity areas for the site. We needed to think about how the content could be atomised and served at the right time and depth. We understood that it was key to equip the carer, who may have been put in their position overnight. Lastly, we wanted to see how the site could integrate into their overall care, for example helping with ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

A holistic service for patients and carers

More Than Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease. 
The immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy tissue within the body. 2.5 million people worldwide have scleroderma, and in the UK there are 12,000 people diagnosed. People can live with this as a chronic condition for years and it may never worsen. However, in some cases, it can be fatal.

From design definition to finished designs

Module catalogue

A catalogue of modules was created for global use. Each module had a guide around usage for both content writers and developers to work from.

Catalogue of content based on patients and their stage in the patient journey

The overall information design is aimed to reassure those who visit the site, whether they are affected by scleroderma directly or indirectly, that they are in a safe and reliable environment where they can find information to help them understand and manage their condition and situation.

The stories hub aims to provide support and hope to patients and caregivers alike, allowing them to view the condition through other people’s experiences and see how they manage the disease.

More than Scleroderma - patient centered service design

More Than Scleroderma is optimised for mobile and tablet viewing, allowing users to access the content at the right time and place to suit them.

Most impressive about this team was not just their unrelenting work ethic and outstanding delivery in UX designs, but their sensitivity to the real people impacted by our projects.”

Senior International Digital Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim