Pictal: health visualization tools for patients

Data Visualization, Healthcare


How might we provide patients with a simple, analog tool to help them express their stories and how they are feeling? As a patient, I have extensively used timelines to efficiently talk about my own health history, and I have also used drawings on body shapes to show my symptoms. I decided to create worksheets that other patients could use to do the same. After testing them myself and giving them to some other patients to test, they are ready for you to try.


I’m calling this worksheet Pictal. Please feel free to download, print, and use¬†it¬†however you would like. My only request is that you tell me what should be improved, so that I can make these better for other patients.

View regular paper size: 8.5″ x 11″





I had severe food poisoning and had a chance to test out these worksheets:



The doctor who treated me said ‘this is the coolest thing ever,’ a phrase that I have heard a number of times from a number of different providers. The visual presentation helped her quickly understand what I was experiencing, and the chronology of events.

I also had the wonderful honor of leading a workshop at Medicine X 2017 in which participants used these worksheets to visualize an ER visit. Here is a write-up of the results: Visualizing symptoms, sensations and stories: trends in how people picture their health.