Paint is an app that allows patients to document and describe their symptoms in more than words. As part of her thesis, Hysterical, second-year student Rhea Bhandari designed Paint to help women advocate for themselves while navigating a healthcare system that often dismisses their symptoms, leaving them misdiagnosed and in avoidable pain.
With the app, patients can visualize their pain in real time by scribbling on or marking relevant areas on a diagram of a human body. It also allows patients to specify the duration and intensity of their symptoms, and express how they feel in that particular moment through text, voice, emojis, and images.
In this way, patients create their own “PainScapes”—which show them and their doctor where their pain is manifesting. The final feature is a “draw argument” button—which outputs a summary of the patient’s predominant and minute pain areas—making it easier for doctors to get familiarized with the patient’s experience.
The average patient gets interrupted 11 seconds into their history-taking procedure if they are unable to describe their symptoms quickly enough.
Rhea argued that one of the reasons for dismissing women’s symptoms—aside from a long history of sexism in the healthcare system—is that patients often don’t have the tools to describe their symptoms. In her book, Every Patient Tells a Story, author and physician Lisa Sanders reports that because of the time constraints of doctor’s appointments, the average patient gets interrupted 11 seconds into their history-taking procedure if they are unable to describe their symptoms quickly enough.
In addition, in scenarios where a patient describes symptoms that don’t fit neatly into a quick and obvious diagnostic protocol, they are usually met with a dismissal of their symptoms or a “wastebasket diagnosis”—a diagnosis so broad and generalized that it gives patients no resolution regarding their ailment.
Taking all this into consideration, Paint is designed to optimize the patient-doctor conversation within the time constraints of the visit. By giving doctors concise but valuable information about their patients' symptoms over a period of time, Paint helps facilitate a timely and accurate diagnosis. “I imagine this app being used as a tool for doctors to prescribe to patients routinely,” the designer shared.
“Being a woman in the healthcare system is difficult as it is, where no one is acknowledging your pain. Adding the complexities of wastebasket diagnoses makes it worse,” Rhea added. “It has come to the point where men are oftentimes required to vouch for the woman’s symptoms in order for them to be taken seriously.” Paint sets out to remedy this, empowering women who are vulnerable and in need of proper medical attention to assert their right to adequate care.