Patients increasingly rely on digital solutions to fulfil their healthcare needs, including getting health advice, scheduling video call appointments, and tracking their health. At the same time, healthcare providers are leveraging software to streamline their operations, such as handling patient records and medications. As a result, the healthcare industry is witnessing rapid growth in adopting mobile apps, patient portals and other custom healthcare software, making designing user-friendly digital solutions more critical than ever.
Although the healthcare industry is undergoing digital transformation, most medical institutions tend to prioritise cost-saving measures, for example, sticking to existing patient portals instead of embracing the potential of updated versions to enhance user experiences. And while it is no secret that design plays a crucial role in organisational success, unfortunately, the healthcare sector has been sluggish in incorporating design innovations. The main reason change is so slow is because of strict regulations and a lack of willingness to shift.
In this article, Ihor Kornatovskyi, ELEKS Product Designer with over ten years of experience- including over four dedicated solely to healthcare software projects – will delve into the importance of design in the healthcare industry and highlight key challenges faced when designing solutions for such complex environment.
Numerous studies have highlighted the potential consequences of medical errors, including financial waste for healthcare providers and, in some cases, patient fatalities. Poorly designed user interfaces (UI) in healthcare software can contribute to these errors.
Healthcare UX designers have the potential to make a significant impact by creating better technology and services. To achieve success in designing digital products for use in medicine, it's crucial to:
An example of this would be creating hospitals with ramps for accessibility purposes—just as software products should also be designed with accessibility at the top of mind. It is essential to develop health products and services that cater to a wide range of users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It includes considering the needs of individuals with visual, auditory, speech, motor, or cognitive impairments. Building an accessible and inclusive experience involves aspects such as colour contrast, text size, and creating a simple and easy-to-use navigation system.
But keep in mind technology alone does not always simplify clinicians' workloads nor solve problems automatically – this misconception only leads down a path where UX design could potentially make things more complicated.
Well-designed healthcare products can save costs by making the best use of resources, improving efficiency and cutting down on mistakes or having to redo work. It benefits both healthcare organisations and patients.
With a user-centred approach, product design in healthcare puts the needs, preferences, and experiences of end-users at the forefront. By involving healthcare professionals, patients, and other stakeholders in the design process, solutions are tailored to their specific requirements, leading to higher adoption rates and better outcomes.
Designing products with accessibility in mind can profoundly impact making healthcare services and technologies more inclusive for individuals with disabilities or diverse needs. This approach ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to access the care they need.
Designing healthcare software products comes with its own set of hurdles. Let’s look at three most common challenges designers encounter while crafting software for healthcare and how to overcome them:
Without understanding users' unique needs and pain points, it is challenging to design software that meets their requirements. Conducting comprehensive user research can provide valuable insights and guide the design process. Here are the key features of effective research:
Carefully consider privacy, ethics, and legal requirements, while maintaining a customer-focused design process.
Acquire knowledge of various languages, contexts, services, and ecosystems to gain a deep understanding of clinicians' motivations and behaviours, ultimately enhancing the patient experience.
Observe, question, and form measurable hypotheses, which are then tested, analysed, and interpreted to drive iterative improvements in the solution. This approach often garners support from stakeholders due to its proven effectiveness.
If you have to make a choice between adding more features or refining the user experience, always choose the latter. The key to success is to give your users a better experience than your competitors. Usability testing is a key tool for achieving that goal.
Here are a few tips on how to achieve a balance and perfectly cover the needs of all parties:
In healthcare, change isn’t embraced as much as in other industries. Healthcare products often have a strong technical and scientific focus, but they often fail to adequately consider the needs of the individuals involved, including doctors, nurses, and patients.
The design of healthcare systems goes beyond just providing convenience and ease of use for patients and clinical staff. It involves collecting, storing, and managing a vast amount of information, which was previously done manually but has now been automated. However, effectively operating and managing such data remains a significant challenge, even with technology.
Designers can tackle this challenge by employing data visualisation techniques that simplify complex information without compromising accuracy.
Our work in digital health design has been truly eye-opening. Having the opportunity to develop healthcare products that can make a real difference in patients' lives is an incredible honour, but it also comes with its share of challenges, such as lack of research and data visualisation.
To overcome these challenges, healthcare product designers must have a deep understanding of the complex healthcare ecosystem, empathy towards both physicians and patients, involve healthcare providers in the design process, and balance between the requirements of all stakeholders while incorporating the latest trends and technology practices.
The breadth of knowledge and understanding that ELEKS has within its walls allows us to leverage that expertise to make superior deliverables for our customers. When you work with ELEKS, you are working with the top 1% of the aptitude and engineering excellence of the whole country.
Right from the start, we really liked ELEKS’ commitment and engagement. They came to us with their best people to try to understand our context, our business idea, and developed the first prototype with us. They were very professional and very customer oriented. I think, without ELEKS it probably would not have been possible to have such a successful product in such a short period of time.
ELEKS has been involved in the development of a number of our consumer-facing websites and mobile applications that allow our customers to easily track their shipments, get the information they need as well as stay in touch with us. We’ve appreciated the level of ELEKS’ expertise, responsiveness and attention to details.