From waking up in the morning, to going for a run, every experience has seen a change with digital intervention. With constant evolution of technology, comes ever-adapting lifestyles. We are now entering an age that looks at digital experiences as a part of our lives. Every step involves some form of digital interaction. This signifies how dependent our lives are on basic digital interactions. How can this be efficiently used to enhance the healthcare industry?
In the healthcare industry, technology is omnipresent. The industry is also experiencing rapid growth due to continuous digitization. By 2025, healthcare investments are anticipated to reach 34 billion USD globally. Although the industry has taken significant steps in transforming itself digitally, it still falls behind the others due to strict regulations that often hamper the adoption of new technologies. Since it involves the alignment and management of multiple stakeholders along the journey, one often forgets that the end users should be the epicenter for health management, care, and communication.
Healthcare is ripe for disruption, but building for digital healthcare seems to be failing. Why is this happening? Why is it challenging to design digital experiences in the space of medicine? What makes it hard to succeed? Firstly, the “think fast and build fast” approach in the world of technology simply does not work in healthcare, where people’s lives are at stake. Secondly, many founders lack understanding of the need to empathize with their audience. Understanding user tendencies, behavior and journeys are crucial in building a digital healthcare product. Some fail by splurging in building the wrong product; others fumble in focusing on product tech rather than focusing on user needs.
There is a growing need to understand what users experience while interacting with medical products and services. Besides the obvious that good user experience design in healthcare can save lives, it also seamlessly bridges the gap between doctors and patients. With healthcare today, we’re seeing a whole ecosystem that needs to be considered while catering to the patient or user. People, systems, product devices, different caregivers, and care providers need to be considered. This is when the role of a designer comes into play – looking at things more holistically across the whole patient ecosystem.
Whether the end users are patients or physicians, the goal is to ensure digital tools are easy to use, easy to access and a boon in people’s lives. Usability and accessibility are essential in healthcare UX. Accessibility is the ability to use a product or service despite a disability, be it real (e.g. blindness) or perceived (e.g. being elderly). Digital products in the health and wellbeing space carry unique and important challenges. The design of the app, or system must be as clear and easy to use as possible. Any room for confusion can have serious consequences when it comes to users’ health (e.g. taking the wrong medication, inputting wrong health data for a provider, etc).
For designers to build efficient solutions for human-centered digital healthcare products, here are five critical points to consider.
Technology is often given precedence, and user needs are overlooked. Technology must act only as a catalyst or an enabler, instead of the solution. Providing viable solutions is only possible by understanding the users wants, needs and intentions. Looking at user frustrations and using technology to enable the solution is key. User frustrations need to be designed well and validated by patients and medical professionals. This process not only validates frustrations, but also helps recognize the environment that surrounds them, how they operate in the environment sans the product.
Co-creating and testing the solution with the users as well as the medical professionals is crucial, as it helps identify hiccups in the design of the solution and ensure faster product refinement. Involving these stakeholders from the start is essential in the product development process. Each testing round can have a new set of users, which can shed light on fresher perspectives and polish the end result. It helps build a product that is not only usable, but excites people to use.
While designing your healthcare product, be aware of how it would be used alongside other systems be it physical or digital. One must take into account how the product would help streamline the user experience on an overall scale. It requires the incorporation of multiple workflows as well as pilot testing in order to ensure that it is validated with key stakeholders surrounding the product. This would create an avenue to make your product both scalable & sustainable.
While testing out the MVP with your users, keep in mind that; one – they are generally habituated to current processes and flows, two – they sometimes just don’t have time to learn new technology. Hence, there lies a constant fear of increased drop offs. To bring about a change in current systems, consider implementing minimal changes to the existing product, or if there are a lot of changes to the existing product, you may want to incorporate a designer from your own team into the product launch to receive feedback from users. Using metrics to see if your product is working or not , talking to the users and asking how the design has positively or negatively impacted their lives. This could then serve as a good resource to alter the existing design before releasing your end product.
It is important to recognize that patients (and frequently their caregivers) have “lived experiences” of a disease. They are intimately familiar with the difficulties they face when functioning with a particular illness. Even healthcare providers take great pride in providing a human-centered approach to their patients, as they have always done.It is important to capture and integrate this feeling into the mind of the designer. When you display the right information for a clinician to view at a given time, it streamlines the clinician’s workflow, which further improves patient engagement.With readily accessible information on medicines and patient conditions, coupled with virtual interactions, and remote monitoring, both prescribers and patients feel more connected.Finding better digital healthcare solutions requires the participation of both patients and clinicians in the early stages of design.
It is easy for designers to incorporate their own experiences into the creation of digital experiences in healthcare. However, these risky assumptions can also have severe repercussions.
A better preventative healthcare system should be available to everyone, and healthcare professionals should be confident and equipped for this task. It is possible to make this a reality by combining digital health with good design thinking. Using user experience design for healthcare can make it possible to bridge the gap between prescribers, providers, and patients. Digital products in the health and wellbeing space carry unique and important challenges, so changing the lens through which we see patients and caregivers is the starting point for human-centered design, a way of thinking about software-driven experiences that address both the emotional and functional needs of all stakeholders in health care. To summarize, a well-designed user experience can be critical, but prove fruitful to people in the healthcare sector by streamlining problem solving and pave the way for digital healthcare milestones if executed well.