Vivir Brings the Human Element of Design to the Medical Field

Vivir (verb): to live, to be alive.

To be, or at least to feel alive is one of the most difficult things to do when you are diagnosed with cancer. You feel like each and every day goes by in a chemical and biological induced blur, with each day bringing different side-affects. With so much innovation going into the medical field there still seems to be quite a bit missing in the field of cancer. Especially when it comes to bringing design into the equation.

What is it?

Very seldom do you see design implemented in the medical field; especially in such a precise manner. Vivir is going to change that. I’ll leave it to Bobby Ghoshal to explain his creation:

Cancer is something that hits quite close to home with me, as I was recently considered in remission from a seven month adventure with Hodgkins Lymphoma. When I saw the beautiful portal that Ghoshal shared with the world just the other day, I couldn’t help but want to share Vivir with the world. What better way to do it, than to leverage my recent writing position, here at The Industry and write a first-hand account of how something so beautifully designed could make countless number of lives easier in the medical field.

What is the significance?

Design isn’t purely for aesthetic purposes, despite that playing a massive role. The true purpose of design, in my opinion, is to enrich the lives of individuals by making it more beautiful, productive, and intuitive by any means possible, through whatever design medium the designer is focused in. Too often we focus on purely the aesthetic aspect of design, when design wasn’t meant for such a shallow view. Design is the solution to the question of how we can improve the life of individuals and even humankind as a whole.

“At a meta level, design connects the dots between mere survival and humanism.” – Erik Adigard

Vivir does just that. Vivir simplifies the life of oncologist practitioners by creating a very visually oriented way for them to view vitals, as well as detailed information on their patients. Oncologists and the nurses who administer the chemotherapy usually have dozens and dozens of patients to take care of each shift. This leaves them with little time to go over information of each patient as they jump back-and-forth administering the drugs that are needed.

The current solutions that are out there for hospitals and clinics to use are “Abysmal info overload,” according to Ghoshal. I must say after seeing the other options, I wish I could say he was over-exaggerating; if anything, he was being polite. As Ghoshal stated perfectly, “Oncologists deserve better because their work is complex and [the] patients deserve better because they are going [through] a traumatic time in their lives.” The current solutions out there aren’t doing the incredible practitioners and the millions of patients any justice.

I don’t even know how to compare the beauty of this design with what is currently used. In fact, I don’t think you can compare. The incredible charts, the easy to read graphs, and the rich, yet clean design shows just how incredible Ghoshal is at making the complex, productive. Turning that much data into something that can be viewed and read in such an intuitive manner is nothing short of a miracle.

Putting the pieces together

Vivir takes almost everything into account on behalf of the practitioners. The navigation is based on the left-hand side and allows the practitioners to move from the current patients information, to upcoming appointments, as well as any incoming email or lab-tests. The middle column consists of six tables, which I’ll break down for you in order of them from top to bottom, followed by a round-up of the right-hand column.

The first table is basic profile of the patient. It includes an image, DOB, location, and diagnosis. It’s followed by a progress note written by the physicians which allow the physician to quickly read through it and know where they left off last treatment.

The second is a graph, allowing for tumor size, red blood cell count, and circulating tumor cell amounts to be displayed in a very nice looking line-graph. Having this information in such prominent form is incredible as it will allow the practitioner to give it a quick glance and visually see any changes.

The third table consists of vitals such as temperature, BPM, blood pressure, and respirations per minute which is very important as one of the first tissues that chemo attacks is the lungs. This is all information that the practitioners need to know the minute they walk into the room and the implementation of it is great.

The fourth table consists of a note to the nurse who administers the drugs. It also features a to-do list which can be checked off as the treatment goes along which will save time for the nurses and decrease the chances of forgetting a step or procedure, which happens quite often, surprisingly.

The fifth table shares the drugs that are to be administered. Each treatment is unique and depends on a lot of variables; most of which are conveniently displayed in the graphic interface within the application. ABVD is the combination of drugs I received and is an acronym for the drugs, whose names I’ll save you from having to pronounce. Having them in chronological order of when they need to be administered and being able to check them off as they switch the bags/syringes will once again cause less confusion and would allow the practitioners to visually see the progress on a convenient display.

The sixth table is a custom note area that the practitioner or nurse can write-up a personal message to cheer up the patient as they arrive and go about their treatment. It may seem silly, but every bit of encouragement helps when you feel like hell on earth.

The column on right-hand side is for the practitioner and allows for him/her to see their upcoming schedule, switch to their upcoming patients, and share orders/notes with other nurses and practitioners. A nicely organized addition


The utility for such a portal within this specified medical field is underestimated in my opinion. It will make practitioners throughout the clinic much more productive while also providing a to-do list oriented way of delivering the chemotherapy, which will inevitably lead to fewer mistakes.

In my personal opinion, I truly think this portal is very capable of changing the entire industry as it currently stands. It would have to be adopted in quite a large manner for it to truly gain traction, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it would be possible. It would truly change how patients look at the treatments. There would be fewer questions from week to week; there would be less confusion in the numbers; and there would be more relief, knowing that things are much more organized. It’s nothing more than complex data hidden behind a gorgeous façade, but it’s a façade that can truly change the way practitioners and patients approach the beast we call cancer.

If you have a story to share about how this could/would affect someone you know, or maybe even yourself while going through chemo, I would love to hear from you in the comments below! I’ll be sure to reply to anyone and everyone.

Jumpstarting a Design Community

Understand Your Compensation

Designer Monoculture

The State of Design Leadership

The Science of Product Design

Interview with Michael Flarup: Co-Founder and Lead Designer at Robocat

The Importance of Design Conventions