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How Improving User Experiences Led To Better Patient Outcomes In Healthcare

Introduction: Understanding the patient journey to improve experiences and efficiency

The transformation from healthcare patients to consumers is well underway. But how can healthcare organizations make this transition?

In this case study we will examine how one healthcare provider undertook extensive research into their patients to improve their experience of going to their physician or doctor. At the same time this helped increase efficiency, by reducing the number of missed or cancelled appointments.

Improving patient communication was key for this healthcare organization to achieve their business goals

This healthcare organization has a reputation for helping improve communication and workflows between the different constituents in the US healthcare system. Their software platform makes it easier for care managers and providers to communicate and share information.

They were faced with the problem however, that patients continued to regularly miss their appointments, or were ill-prepared for surgery. They were not being provided with timely updates, or the relevant information to prepare themselves correctly. Effective patient management relies on pre-operative appointments with patients, so individuals know what they should (and shouldn’t) be doing before going to surgery. Phone calls and regular check-ins are critical to track their progress.

The organization therefore decided to examine ways in which they could help patients better adhere to their care plan, by creating a stronger relationship between them and their care coordinator. To achieve this, they engaged Belatrix’s user experience consulting services.

Belatrix’s UX consulting services helped understand the patient journey

In order to improve the patient’s engagement with their healthcare provider, they wanted to better understand who the patient was, and their concerns and priorities. How do they feel about the US healthcare system; is it meeting their needs? How much trust do they have in their healthcare provider? Do they use technology or mobile applications? Before they go to surgery, what is the best way to contact them and provide guidance and support (a phone call, Facebook, WhatsApp?)

Belatrix utilized a combination of Design Thinking and user experience (UX) principles. By using the principles of Design Thinking the researchers were able to put themselves into the position of a typical patient, in this case someone older than 65 who lives in the US and is about to undergo surgery.

The UX process

In order to better understand the user, Belatrix conducted in-depth research, following the UX process. This involved:

  1. Brainstorming session and identification of key issues. The team reviewed key items and started defining, through a brainstorming session, the core topics. These included:
    1. Patient role: Who is our user? (Building a persona)
    2. User demographics
    3. How patients feel about healthcare
    4. The patient’s comfort level with technology, and current patient engagement tools
  2. Conducting in-depth research. Following the brainstorming session, and evaluation and prioritization of the issues, the team started the research phase of the project. The research included:
    1. Qualitative interviews with patients and other stakeholders, based on a core questionnaire
    2. Extensive secondary research
  3. Creating a research-based deliverable. This included using tag clouds to summarize the key findings of the research. The team put together a research document outlining the user research.

Following the delivery of the research-based deliverable, Belatrix continued to work on defining the key personas to visualize the concerns of different patients. For example:

 

As a: Care Coordinator

I want to be able to: Effectively communicate with the patient

So that I can: Get the patient to advocate for their own care and learn about any adverse events as soon as possible

As a: Patient

I want to be able to: Understand what is going on in my care and have my voice heard if I have concerns

So that I can: Ease my anxiety and feel taken care of

 

The problem description

The problem description

Belatrix implemented front and back-end changes based on user research

Based on the research conducted and the personas created, Belatrix implemented a variety of changes to both the front-end and back-end of the software platform. These technical and UX improvements to the product in turn led to direct business benefits, and improved patient experiences. In particular:

  • Front-end: Belatrix proposed solutions to solve usability problems based on actual issues faced by patients; mockups were created; CSS and HTML bugs were fixed; HTML prototypes were created; new user interface (UI) functionalities were implemented; improved code review management and better requirements definitions.
  • Back-end: Belatrix created several performance improvements, and created and modified endpoints for the required functionalities.

Conclusion

UX research leads to greater patient-centricity

By using the UX process, combined with Design Thinking, key patient considerations could be taken into consideration while improving the product. The process ensured a much deeper level of patient-centricity than what was possible before, and also made sure that any changes were based on rigorous user research.

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