User experience exists everywhere! And as we know, no industry is apart from it. User experience is valued, considered, and embraced in the digital or real world. But there’s one industry where we need to refine the user experience, yet it has not been made the centre of attention. And that is the Healthcare industry. Healthcare design needs to be the prime focus when it comes to making the experience smooth and easy for the patients and the healthcare providers. Patient experience is something that barely gets mentioned in healthcare design.
No doubt, technology has changed the way how healthcare works. But with that came along the complications of the tech world! And a good user experience can help make it easy! Comparatively, healthcare is slow in adopting new tech. For instance, in many parts of the world, the way healthcare officials and providers, and patients interact haven’t changed. Even with plenty of technology, we are not using it efficiently in the right direction for healthcare design.
Moreover, the pandemic has greatly changed how people expect healthcare design to be improved. People have been avoiding visiting a clinic due to the pandemic. Everybody looks for alternative ways to contact and consult a doctor. And on the other hand, Telemedicine is the rising star here! Telemedicine is how the doctor and a patient communicate with the help of technology. This can be helpful for healthcare workers, and they can find a way to manage this many patients.
Well, let’s understand in deep the need of the hour: user experience in healthcare
UX in healthcare Design
Healthcare design is not limited to patient and clinical staff convenience and ease of use, and it is more than that. Plenty of information needs to be collected, stored, and managed. And that was done manually for a long time but not anymore. Even with the technology, operating and managing all that data is a huge task. Why should there be any difficulty, isn’t technology meant to make things smooth for us?
The abundance of information in healthcare design needs digital systems that are usable and reliable. If the digital systems are faulty, it can lead to errors in medical records. And that is a mistake no one can afford in the healthcare sector. And such errors have been a cause of death around the world. But a well-structured UX design can resolve this issue. Reducing the chances of errors and ensuring that design is not the cause of error in healthcare UX. With healthcare turning digital from every corner, the user experience will be an integral part of it. Moreover, using mobile phones has been a great help in data management, diagnostics, and sharing reports.
Along with advanced mobile technology, certain challenges will come along the way for the users. And to combat those challenges, there’s a need for intuitive technology designs. Let’s look at some emerging trends and practices in healthcare design! And take a look at how they are revolutionizing the whole user experience.
Healthcare UX Practice & Trends
Fitness bands and smartwatches are the new accessories in the town. Their functionality and interface can never be disappointing. While looking stylish and sleek, they must deliver a seamless UX to the users. That being said, in healthcare design, the users are the patients.
Here comes the crucial point: designing UX for other users and patients is different.
Make sure the design interface is easy to navigate through. There shouldn’t any chance of confusion and complication in the devices. Also, the patients are already stressed enough with their health. A technological complication isn’t ideal in such cases.
These tech wearables aim at helping users build a healthy lifestyle and take control of their health. They keep track of the users’ health and activities, like the heart rate, body fat, blood pressure, and walking steps. Now such information should be upfront and easy to find at any moment. Moreover, the device should be able to analyze and understand the details entered by the users and provide them with easy-to-understand data.
Ultimately, the interface needs in healthcare design to be as simple as possible so that the patients can easily navigate through the features. And make sure they do not have to look for a handbook on using the device.
Chatbots might raise a question inside our heads about whether they are the right addition to this list, and you are not wrong to think that. They have gained noticeable momentum with the rising use of mobile health applications. Yeah, we get it; it becomes challenging to design the UX of a product for human-machine interaction. It may seem complicated at first glance to design the UX of a chatbot in a health application, but if you look at it from the users’ perspective, it is even difficult for them to interact with a chatbot regarding health.
Firstly, when you are working on a conversational user interface (CUI), it requires thorough research work. And you need to go for the primary sources to understand user behavior. Every user will be different, and the queries they raise won’t be the same. The chatbots need to be adaptable to whatever may come. Healthcare AI chatbots can stir up traditional doctor-patient interaction. If the chatbot can offer relevant and useful answers to the patient’s queries and even provide a prescription for the general symptoms, it would remove the need to visit a clinic for minor illnesses.
But if you are wondering what if the situation is critical? Such scenarios demand the need for human-to-human interaction. Here, the chatbots can let users know the urgency of the situation. And also provide a list of doctors nearby that the user can contact directly through the application.
Additionally, chatbots are not the ideal way of communication for emergencies. They can make great self-care assistants by providing patients with timely medical advice and alerts.
AR and VR
AR and VR technologies bring a whole new opportunity for designers in healthcare design. It will enhance healthcare operations and procedures. And for healthcare professionals, VR provides a safe environment to test and learn new skills without harming the patients’ safety. This can help approve the experience of med students with surgery and other operations. It can help in diagnostics and surgical planning.
Moreover, these technologies can help doctors analyze patients’ health with more in-depth body scans. Not just the healthcare professionals but when the patients are going through medical treatment, VR can help divert their focus and make the process easier for both the patient and the doctors. Patients can experience various places or activities through VR during their medical treatment. This can help lessen patients’ overall stress when dealing with health issues.
An electronic health record system (EHR) is a digitized copy of a patient’s paper chart. It intends to bring a high-quality UX to patients and doctors.
E-records are everywhere: labs, pharmacies, medical imaging facilities, emergency facilities, and school & workplace clinics. All in all, e-records contain information from all the clinicians involved in the process. And at the same time, it needs to avail the important information first on the surface level. So that any healthcare provider can easily access the data needed.
EHR systems with intuitive UX design can help healthcare officials easily access patients’ data. It can make the work easier for them, and they can shift their focus toward the patients instead of indulging in all the digital documentation.
We are all well-acquainted with Alexa and Siri, but who knew they could be the future of healthcare design? The Voice user interface can work similarly to the AI chatbots. VUIs are programmed to answer all your queries. Someone with some critical illness won’t have time to go through their phone and chat with the AI chatbot. But one can easily ask the VUIs device to make an emergency call or order something for them. VUIs can offer accessibility like no other.
Virtual assistants can easily handle crises. For instance, calling the helpline whenever the user tells the device if they are not feeling well. You never know; this might save a life. Furthermore, these devices need to be secure and reliable. And, if the patient or the user needs to order some medications through a VUI, it should be able to understand the message quickly. As a result, there are fewer chances of error and more accuracy.
Additionally, VUIs should be able to accept plain language and provide outputs in the same way. And it should be able to understand some subjective things like pain. So it should be able to ask the user, “on a scale of 0-10, where 0 means no pain, how much pain are you experiencing?”. This can be helpful for the device to understand and take automated actions for the patient, like calling the emergency contact or 911.
UX Challenges in Healthcare
Modern tech is all about providing a seamless experience to patients. Technology makes the process easy and fast for all. Plus, it should make patients feel better and more comfortable with the treatment. While designing the UX for healthcare devices, the focus should be on what patients need and what doctors and healthcare providers struggle with. And as a designer, you have to balance the user needs with the help of the latest trends & practices in technology.
According to multiple research, Medical errors are the third leading cause of death. A poorly designed UI is one of the primary reasons. Another issue faced in healthcare design is that healthcare practitioners do not know how to use the technology to its efficiency. And this leads to the cause of medical errors. Providing consistent training to all with time can help resolve this issue.
Another challenge in healthcare design is the interoperability of the products. If you are wondering what it is interoperability? A product can handle and perform the exchange of data. Complex interfaces become a hurdle in delivering a smooth UX because most healthcare applications rely on eternal systems. Healthcare officials face this challenge often with E-records.
The healthcare industry can greatly benefit from the wonders of UX design practices. It will innovate new ways of improving the overall health experience. As discussed, patient experience often gets less attention than it should receive. Understanding the pain points of patients and healthcare product users will help deliver a better UX and UI. Healthcare UX Experts need to be updated with technological changes and trends to be prepared to handle UX assignments.