Teaching heart failure veterans how to take care of themselves

Boo-ya! A personalized memory matching card game 


Duration: 2 months

Client: VA Hospital of Pittsburgh

Team: 1 design student and myself

My Role: This was a team project in which we both were involved in ideation, design and testing. I took on a leadership role, leading our team on art direction, copy writing, photography, and user testing.

Background: Readmission is a problem at the VA Hospital. Readmission is when a patient gets discharged, but has to return to the hospital because they fall ill again. Readmission is problematic for the hospital because they can use those resources to treat somebody who hasn't been treated before. How can we help veterans who have been discharged learn to take care of themselves at home?



Our target audience are 70-80 year old veterans who have been treated for heart failure. These people don't know how to take care of themselves once they leave the hospital and don't remember what the doctor says upon discharge. 

Possible deliverables:

  • Info cards
  • Posters around the house
  • Diagnosis booklet
  • Card game


The concept was "My Body, My Health." We wanted the audience to understand how to take care of themselves and that their health is their responsibility. We also wanted to reinforce what the doctor has said and give tips on healthy living.


Font and color study

Font and color study


Our contact at the VA hospital sent us a 60 pages worth of documents. I sifted through the documents and pulled out the most important points, checking with our contact to make sure these were things patients needed to know. We researched legibility standards and what sort of language should be on the cards. I then simplified the text from the documents and separated them into short messages we can put on the cards. I also wrote the instructions on how to play the game. We needed a large, easily legible font so our elderly audience and read and understand with ease.


We started with stock photos, but then decided to take our own photos. I arranged the photoshoot, finding all the items we needed and scheduling with our model. I set up the lights in the studio and took the photos.


First iteration of cards

First iteration of cards

Cards v2

Cards v2

Cards v3

Cards v3

Final cards

Final cards

Answer Sheets & Instructions

We needed answer sheets and instructions in addition to the cards. The answer sheets are there for the veteran to check if he doesn't know if he matched the cards correctly. We considered having the answer sheets bound in a small book or have loose papers. We settled for individual sheets for each category and put them together in an envelope. The loose sheets were easier to find and access when they were needed.


Once we decided what our cards end up looking like, we needed to package the entire thing. We came up with the name BOO-YA! because it's a term, usually shouted, that signifies victory and happiness. Our game is designed to help veterans live happily and healthily so it was a fitting name. We added stars into the logo because these are veterans who are fighting for stars and stripes.


User Testing

Unfortunately, we weren't able to get veterans to play our game. We didn't let that stop us. Instead, we found some older folk around campus and asked them to play our game. We didn't give them any prompting in order to simulate a veteran playing the game at home without a nurse moderating. They provided us with insights and feedback, which we later incorporated into the next iteration of our game.


  • Designed for a new audience
  • How to direct a photoshoot
  • Stepping up to take more of a leadership role