Headaches About Heartaches

Headaches About

Every 34 seconds someone in the US has a heart attack, and within the next minute someone will die from a heart-disease related event. That amounts to 600,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

Yikes. Makes you want to eat broccoli and get on the elliptical doesn’t it? Unfortunately, for many at risk of suffering a heart attack, the healthy-livin’ train has already left the station. Often the next best option in preventative care is interventional cardiology, a minimally invasive treatment of heart disease that uses guide wires and other highly specialized tools to unblock and open obstructed arteries.

Interesting Fact

deaths from heart-disease related events in the US each year.

Enter Abbott Vascular

Abbott Vascular is a global leader in cardiac and vascular care with market-leading products and an industry-leading pipeline. They offer cutting edge devices for treating patients with coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, carotid artery disease, anomalies of the renal vascular system and other difficult to pronounce conditions that you never want to hear your doctor say.

When it comes to coronary guide wires alone they offer 43 different products, many of which, let’s face it, seem pretty damn similar. For busy cardiologists to have a fighting chance at sifting through Abbott’s extensive portfolio and selecting the best tools for the job, they need to be properly educated on the subtle differences between every device. For this to happen, Abbott’s sales team needs to be sharp. More accurately, they need the right tools.

An Extensive Portfolio

Coronary products in Abbott Vascular’s catalog


The Task

Abbott wanted to improve the sales experience by arming their sales team with an innovative digital toolkit. Knowing what was best for them, they came to us. The primary challenge was to create a sales solution for Abbott reps to showcase their products in a clear and compelling way, while providing on-demand comparisons between similar devices in their market. We also had to consider that the sales team numbers in the hundreds, operates globally, speaks multiple languages and already uses a variety of digital platforms to sell.

Company Background

Countries where Abbott Vascular sells in worldwide.

Oh, and did we mention that this was a market where new products were being released frequently? The 41 countries Abbott sells in have widely varying regulatory requirements and product information that needs to be updated often. This was no small cookie to crumble.

Of course, knowing we were about to deliver an app to help doctors make better decisions leading to life-extending treatment outcomes - didn’t add to the stakes at all. No pressure.


The Challenge

Let’s be honest, if we had an alley, this was right up in it. Taking everything into consideration, it was clear that a cross-platform app controlled by a Content Management System (CMS) would offer the best solution to Abbott Vascular’s needs. We began our creative process by determining what challenges needed to be addressed by the app and CMS and what elements absolutely had to be included in each.

Basic requirements for the App

  • Ability to gracefully handle the browsing of hundreds of products under many categories
  • Have a comparison feature that would allow users to select a number of products – competitors included - and analyze them side-by-side
  • Provide visually compelling comparison of features, such as graphs, that would allow customers to clearly see product benefits
  • Ability to shift between multiple languages and regions

Requirements for the CMS

  • Ability to handle the unlimited entry of product information into the app
  • Act as a portal to preview changes
  • Have a changelog (record of every CMS user’s actions) to track product information updates
  • Have an approval system that complies with Abbott Vascular’s legal requirements
  • Ability to shift between multiple languages

With a clear idea of where we were headed, we started designing and developing a cross-platform app for both the iPad and desktop computers, since not all sales representatives would have access to an iPad. We paired the app with a custom-designed CMS that would be focused around the updating of product content.

The Process

After the technical requirements and structure were approved by Abbott vascular, we went straight into wireframing the main screens of the app and CMS. We kept the appearance to simple colours and shapes, focusing on the layout and the placement of each interactive element.

The Process

The App

The wireframes were refined in a few iterations before exploring some variations in UI elements. We landed on a dark blue shell, with brighter whites and blues for the product areas – other colours were used sparingly throughout the app. Green was saved for the button to add products for comparison. The remaining colours were part of the Abbott Vascular brand and were used to distinguish their products as well as the product graphs in the comparison section.

The App


The final design of the CMS didn’t change too much from the wireframes. It needed to be easy to read, understand, and fast to load to see changes. It stayed very clean and simple, using only 3 colours throughout the design. We constantly refined the icons, placement of elements, and flow between sections during development.

It all comes together

It all comes together

After many hours of encountering problems and finding solutions, writing code, refining details, and basically pushing ourselves to our limit, we had our final product. We presented Abbott Vascular with an innovative, sophisticated and comprehensive marketing tool that would vastly improve the sales experience for both the sales team and their customers.

The ease of use and flexibility of the app, along with the product information management through the CMS, would allow the global sales force to present their products clearly and effectively, making it easier for doctors to make informed decisions. Because of the development success of the tool, Abbott Vascular will be launching the application in multiple countries and five languages.