Transforming Usability Throughout the Health Care Experience
There’s perhaps no industry where usability and overall user experience is more critical than that of health care. Personalized engagement is of the utmost importance to an environment where the relationship with between patient and provider can at times seem impersonal. A human perspective has become essential in optimizing communications, improving processes and producing better outcomes. This need has become so clear, that for the second year in a row, the Electronic Health Records Association has held an annual ‘Shaping Usability of Health IT Summit’. The focus of the meeting in part, was the ‘creation of personas representing the wide variety of stakeholders whose day-to-day activities are impacted by health IT.’
Making the right connections and conversions in healthcare communications is no simple feat. Though the patient-provider relationship has been given most focus from a branding standpoint, the channels and personas within the health system are vast – inclusive of clinicians and solutions providers who administer care and support the delivery of that care to the government and insurance agencies that ultimately pay for these services. Following the path of user-centered design’s core principles in identifying the audience, creating the right information architecture and integrating user experience design will ultimately deliver the product that is connective and relatable.
This steady influx of essential messaging in healthcare communications demands a keenly collaborative focus on an ongoing basis to continually optimize the user experience and reach the best outcomes. Nearly real-time information is now an essential element of the healthcare service model – information, both visual and contextual should be designed to clearly communicate high-level information to both patient and provider with cues to deeper results, data and statistics. This delivery should be simple and easy to navigate – as there is little time to comb through a complex system.
The design becomes an extension of the tangible relationship between patient and provider. Consistent messaging helps to reinforce the importance of diagnosis, encourage treatment and the identification of complications. Across media – digital and print, the user-centered strategies should be implemented. From data integration, conferences, events, advertisements, packaging, all the way to patient assets – the messaging is scalable to meet the needs of each platform and carry through the experience life-cycle.
Not only does usability come into play with regard to content strategies, but brand storytelling must resonate with the user, reflecting authenticity and transparency. The most challenging aspect is to deliver a consistent and intuitive experience with the constant stream of updates and complex information that comes with the healthcare territory.
Though no replacement for the face to face connection with a provider, user-centered marketing and design is becoming a powerful strategy for creating engagement in the healthcare environment, creating a dialogue with the whole person, not just the patient, and similarly with health care providers.
A brand or organization must work with a creative team to fully explore the target user set and goals. The intersection of the brand experience and empathy is where an authentic dialogue into action, can begin. Empathic design and marketing creates strong emotional connection, and winning the trust of your audience.1