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How Better UX in Healthcare Will Improve Patient Experience & Drive Results

The Patient Experience is the interaction between a patient and the healthcare system. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), patient experience measures whether practices that should be happening in a healthcare setting, such as clear communication, are happening and at what frequency. As the healthcare paradigm shifts towards value-based care, understanding and delivering an optimal patient experience is more important than ever.

In order to improve patient experience, many providers have turned to technology to help them facilitate operations and patient management. However, the oxymoron in this situation is that as more systems, software, and devices come online in the healthcare landscape it becomes harder to allocate resources towards best practices and to focus on what's important - the patient's needs. This phenomenon is leading to an industry-wide crisis labeled physician burnout. Now more than ever, technology companies need to put a dedicated focus on how providers interact with technology.

This interaction can be described as user experience (UX). But what is user experience? User experience is a product's ability to be useful towards users' goals while minimizing frustrations and inefficiencies. And it is the responsibility of technology vendors to design UX that fits this criteria.

Unfortunately, the state of UX design (and product design) in healthcare leaves a lot to be desired. However the shift towards value-based care is enabling better UX to be a requirement instead of just a nice to have. Leading UX can improve the patient experience, streamline productivity and empower providers to do their best work.  

As an example, Catalyte, an IT recruiting, consulting, and development firm,  highlights in a 2017 case studyhow they partnered with a healthcare organization to improve the efficiency of an IoT (internet of things) application. This IoT project places multiple sensors in patients’ homes in order to monitor abnormalities in daily routines. As the project has grown the application that reports the data was suffering from inefficiencies in usability and scalability.  To resolve this, Catalyte relied on a UX methodology to build a more efficient application,  and reduce the time to access and act on patient data, ultimately improving the quality of patient care.

In order to keep up, provider organizations are choosing technology that provides a better user experience for their clinicians and administrators. Intuitive systems that are easier to use will streamline the time spent in software and provide more time to focus on a patient’s needs and care. But how do you differentiate a good design from a not so great design?

For the Forcura product team, this means technology has to be designed and built with three key aspects in mind:

  • Be efficient: Products, systems, and interfaces should not only be easy to use, but provide an efficient way to complete a task or objective. The process should be straightforward and the interaction along the way should be simple and follow patterns.

  • Be useful: The product should ultimately solve a problem for the user or business. Good design assesses a problem and presents a solution that is centered around the target user and business.

  • Be scalable: This one can be the hardest to assess, especially in the long run. The way solutions function and are built need to 1.) From an infrastructure perspective, be able to handle the load of a scalable business and 2.) From a training and expectation perspective, use trainable patterns throughout a process or application that can be repeatable.

To give you an idea on how the Forcura product team innovates and fits these criteria into our products, our team relies on design thinking to craft a user experience customized for our customers. Forcura’s process goes something like this:

 

User Research: Listen to our customers to define the problem

We always start off with research. Coordinating with our clients and mutual network of partners helps us identify opportunities for improvements. From this feedback it is easy to figure out who target users are, their goals, tasks, and frustrations. To help us visualize gaps, we map everything out from tasks and process to user feedback and satisfaction. This helps us see opportunities and define the new product or features’ concept, functionality and ultimately a criteria for success.

 

Ideate: Use user feedback to identify opportunities

The key to ideation is brainstorming. By producing multiple solutions and ideas, our team is able to foresee and consider alternative possibilities and potential roadblocks that may not have been considered initially. We take a step back and think about how to creatively solve the problem - not just how to take the offline world and move it online. Forcura then validates solutions internally by applying the criteria and objectives established in the research phase and then move into building a minimal viable product. 

 

Prototype and Iteration: Validate our solution

Using prototypes, we present our ideas with the same clients and partners from our research phase. This is essential for validating how useful our solution is in user and business use cases. We then perform usability testing with users to identify every way our solution doesn’t meet the criteria and iterate this process until the product meets the objectives.

For Forcura, it’s about helping customers streamline communication and operations so they can focus on providing better, faster patient care. By using this process, Forcura is able to provide solutions with better user experience that ultimately alleviate the software burden for clinicians and administrators so they can focus on patient care and enhance the overall patient experience for their organization.

Frank Adamo is a Multimedia Designer at Forcura. He elevates Forcura's brand through creative and unique design: graphics, UX, and video. Connect with Frank on LinkedIn.

Topics: healthcare, Innovation & Interoperability in Healthcare

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