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A Companion App for Individuals living with Chronic Pain

Propelled by the onset of the pandemic, NeuPath Pain and Spine Centre, with locations across Ontario and Alberta, understood there was a need to reimagine their pain management programme within the virtual space.


Pre-pandemic, NeuPath clinics offered the Stanford Pain Management Program (PMP) to their patients — a comprehensive in-person educational group support programme. As virtual care quickly became the norm at the beginning of the pandemic, Pivot was approached to create a virtual platform that would replace their in-person group support programme and help patients self-manage and track their pain over time.


Pivot conducted 13 1-on-1 virtual interviews with individuals from the main groups identified as potential users of the platform — patients, care providers, funders, and family doctors. The interviews helped us identify the needs, motivations and barriers each group faces, which we used to validate and enrich our series of six detailed personas — documents we would visit and revisit as we went through the process.

Another output from our interview synthesis was a series of 7 key themes, which helped us generate recommendations around functionality, messaging, and areas of focus for the app. One of the key themes was around the importance of building a voice for the app, which prompted us to conduct further interviews with program leaders, whom both patients and providers we’d interviewed credited to the success of the in-person group pain management program.

Before delving into design, we conducted a landscape review; secondary research that would allow us to look at other organizations both inside and outside the space. We focused on digital tools, messaging and content within categories such as gamification, symptom tracking, and digital group therapy.

Armed with all of this Design Evidence™, we went through the interaction design process — creating user flows for the primary personas, and building out a comprehensive information architecture organizing the areas of functionality. This included educational modules (a robust 71 lessons covering 14 topics from diet to activity), symptom tracking to be shared with the clinic, virtual support group, and goal-setting.

We spent considerable time developing the goal setting section, as both patients and providers had indicated that they valued building up quality of life even over improving pain scores. The user is guided by a virtual “coach”— Phoebe — who helps users set their unique goals and track their progress weekly.


The findings around building a voice for the app, from our discovery phase, would later help us in the creation of the platform’s brand. The name “myBeam” was chosen to represent a beam of light guiding the way (think lighthouse!), symbolizing hope, and beam as a structural element representing the strength and support the app offers to sufferers of chronic pain.

PIVOT designed two platforms, one for chronic pain patients and one for providers.