Designing Multi-user product experiences
Three principles FOR MULTI-USER PRODUCTs
Design for multiple care configurations.
ENABLE different 
levels of access.
Account for formal and informal caregivers.
Caregiving is at its essence, relational—people taking care of other people. Yet we so often design care experiences, especially health-related, for a single user: the patient. This leaves out the critical role caregivers play in both the health outcomes and day to day experience of patients. We end up building products and services that don't account for the communal reality of how care really happens in people's lives. There is an opportunity to design care products and services that reflect these realities—of multi-person, multi-role, multi-generational care networks—and can more easily facilitate the connections between families, communities, and providers.

The $648 billion dollar care economy includes the diverse care surrounding patients and care recipients, well beyond the clinic or hospital. There are 54 million informal caregivers in the United States constituting a heterogeneous community that we are all a part of—spanning gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomics. There are also 4.7M paid care workers in the care economy.

In sectors like entertainment, gaming and workplace tools, there has been a notable shift towards collaborative software products with multi-user capabilities. Think about Netflix accounts that cater to different preferences and permissions for both kids and parents. Consider shared Google Docs, where assigning someone as an editor or a commenter is seamless. Or even the convenience of Instacart, which allows multiple contributors to a shopping cart. While we're starting to see the healthcare industry embrace multi-user experiences, such as Fitbit and Oura enabling shared data between families and friends, there is still immense untapped potential.

In addition to better care outcomes, designing products for caregiving teams can be a significant driver of product adoption. Multi-user products makes sense from a business perspective: multiple people using a product means more engagement and greater stickiness when a group continuously interacts with a product.

Let's take this multi-user idea further and imagine a group of siblings managing their aging parents' care through a digital platform where providers, caregivers, and patients effortlessly share information and tasks. Or envision a product where parents, grandparents, nannies, and more all synchronized to meet the needs of their children. Or imagine financial services designed to be used by older adults adn their caregivers. There are so many scenarios in care where multi-user experience design should be the norm.

How can we design products that engage, include and enable everyone who plays a role in our care experiences?
equity-centered design
Both paid and unpaid caregivers, and the vast majority of the paid care workforce, are female-identified and BIPOC+, many coming from historically marginalized communities. This demographic reality makes multi-user design even more critical, as it allows for considerations around power, control, collaboration, language, and experiential expertise. In other words, multi-user design has great potential to be equity-centered design.
Three principles to guide A multi-user approach:
Design for multiple care configurations.
Products should be designed to accommodate different and multiple caregiver configurations, from types of roles to levels of interaction e.g., ways of contribution or asking for support. Given the number of permutations that can exist and change over time, a starting place would be to assign roles to users; each role with a set of corresponding actions/permissions.
ianacare is an integrated platform for family caregivers to organize and mobilize care. Users can create their own care circles (care recipient, organizer, supporters, and caregivers) to request and receive care support, from childcare to errands. The platform centralizes care in one place where all of these roles can seamlessly stay in sync.
“What really helped in Jessica Nam Kim’s (co-founder of ianacare) caregiving journey was reaching out: to her friend circle, her family circle, and getting help from there. So from an architecture perspective, we knew ianacare needed to be multi-user from Day 1.” 
- Ianacare VP of Product, Faria Hassan
Design for different levels of access.
Care is intimate, which means it raises issues of privacy, visibility of medical records, and HIPAA compliance. Consider the sensitivities of users, and legal compliance aspects of your product. Think multiple siblings managing the care of a parent, or a patient communicating with their immediate family and a large circle of caring friends. Sensible defaults may vary across conditions and cultural contexts. It is important to ensure that the patient and/or primary user has the ability to control their clinical information. How might a platform learn what types of information can be shared with specific user roles in ways that support patient autonomy and/or decline?
Carefull is a digital platform that provides financial safety to older adults and families - from identity monitoring to money protection. Users can create a trusted contacts list - sharing different levels of alerts with close family members and financial advisors.
For example, users can share bills, mortgage payments, financial documents and passwords with different individuals. Users are able to manage access based on their level of comfort with each individual.
Avanlee is an app that allow multiple caregivers around a care recipient to be connected. Caregivers can share updates, track changes in a care recipient’s health, organize grocery delivery with families, remind everyone of appointments and prescriptions - all on a secure communication platform between the family and care recipient.
The app is designed to provide users with multiple ways of contributing and receiving different levels of information based on what they are contributing e.g., appointments vs. prescription details.
Account for a mix of formal and informal caregivers.
Caregivers can be paid or unpaid, and products need to be designed to support both, as they often share support and responsibilities. This means providing tools for communication, project management, shared tasks, payment management and more between family members and professionals. 
Olla enables formal caregivers, patients and their caregivers to initiate and manage care across facility, virtual, and at-home settings. By unifying data and services on one platform, care moves to a multi-user experience centered around the patient's life.
Patients and their caregivers can interact with their professional care team to see how different aspects of their care are interrelated, in the context of their benefits and wraparound services. Providers are able to create action plans with tools inside and outside of their own care context.
Hazel Health is a telemedicine platform partnering with K-12 public schools, health plans, and families to increase access to high-quality physical and mental health care at no out-of-pocket costs to families.
With a guardian’s written consent, Hazel can address everything from allergies to anxiety, delivering care to children virtually through its secure app, from school or from home. Post-visit summary notes and care instructions are provided to families, confidentially through the app.
caregiver typologies
Caregivers play many different roles—from day-to-day support to handling financial tasks from a distance. These typologies can help you better understand and design for the many ways caregivers show up.
anchor champions
Anchor champions provide ongoing, active support, helping to guide care. They’re in the meetings, driving to appointments, holding hands, partnering on or making decisions, and providing in-person, constant support. They might be an account holder or administrator, depending on the care recipient's state. They might also need to move into a secondary champion role from time to time—to be able to take a break. 
Support champions
Support champions provide intermittent support, bringing food, or providing backup emotional support. They’re ‘on call’ and connected by phone calls or text threads. They’re doing financial planning, writing emails, making calls, and often contributing to care planning. They might move into being primary champions here and there, or spend time as community carers. 
community carers
Community carers are the cheering section. They might not be there day-to-day or even nearby, but they’re part of the groundswell of support around a care recipient, in-the-know well wishers tuning in and supporting from afar. They read blog updates and social media posts, sometimes commenting. They might swap in as secondary champions on an as-needed basis.
We know it takes a village; it’s time for care productS To reflect this multi-user reality with digital experiences.
Building a multi-user experience from the start is definitely the cleaner and easier path - one we’re confident will become the norm in future care and digital health products. But even if you’ve started with a single-user architecture, the reward of better care outcomes as well as higher engagement and a stickier product, make the case for investing in the change to a multi-user experience.
Source: A national survey with n=2485 respondents to understand household willingness to pay for products and services that reduce the time spent on household management tasks. Conducted in April 2021 by McKinsey & Co.