Heartline Clinical Trial

from Johnson & Johnson and Apple

Client: Janssen
Role: Head of research & testing, project leader
Team Size: 4 researchers, 2 data scientists,  2 designers
Duration: 18 months

A research study from J&J in collaboration with Apple to analyze the impact of the Apple Watch on the early detection and diagnosis of AFib.

Randomized, direct-to-participant, digital trial, leveraging a new heart health app in combination with Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notifications and ECG detection. Participants learned how to stay heart-healthy every day with heart health education and lifestyle tips. 

The study launched in Q1 2020.

  • AFib is the leading risk factor of stroke

  • Afib results in a 5x greater risk for stroke

  • 3 million people in the US have afib

  • Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke in the US

Background research

  • Foundational research
  • Feasibility study
  • Workstream formation

Design & Build

  • Study design
  • Research goal development
  • App design
  • Website design


J&J in collaboration with Apple, launched HEARTLINE, a clinical study to determine if the Apple Watch and a heart health program can improve heart health outcomes.


I led the research team collaboratively with Apple designers in generative and evaluative research. We provided insights and recommendations for the website, mobile app and study development. We were tasked with solving multiple problems along the development roadmap, including:

  • Study interest

  • Senior technology usage

  • Medication adherence

  • Price point sensitivity

  • Senior use of Apple Watch

  • Content testing

Content Testing
Subjects = 1500+


Testing both the types of content and style, tone and reading level led to a focus and refinement of the content we used and how it was written.

Seniors & Apple Watch

Subjects = 3000+


We sat in on tutorials at the Apple Genius Bar and observed seniors learning to use their new Apple Watch. We also surveyed seniors about their technology use in general and specifically about the use of the Apple Watch. Results led to the decision to put Apple Genius Bars in Best Buys where seniors could get help with the Watch setup.

Usability testing

Subjects = 150+


Usability testing throughout the design and development of the app, marketing website, and onboarding flow helped us iterate and refine to remove as much friction as possible. 

Technology usage 

Subjects = 3000+


Early on we needed to know the likelihood that seniors would be able to understand and participate in the program. We conducted multiple surveys around senior technology usage, mobile app literacy, abilities with iPhones, and interest in wearables and tracking devices.

Medication Adherence
Subjects = 50+


We used ethnographic interviews to probe the sentiments and archetypes around medication adherence for afib patients.

The duration of each subject’s test session was ~ 1 hour long and conducted via Zoom with 25 patients across the country.

Study Interest
Subjects = 3000+


The acquisition campaign and marketing messaging were developed and refined based on cohort interest, price sensitivity, and motivational data uncovered during moderated and unmoderated interviews, A/B testing and surveys.

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