For a long time, User Experience (UX) was a term relegated to the world of consumer technology. Web and application developers focused on UX to craft seamless interfaces for the average person accessing new software. Now, however, technology is everywhere, and the success of every professional depends on a seamless UX design that allows them to get their job done easily.
Nowhere is a good UX more important than in the healthcare field. That’s because patients increasingly rely on virtual systems to get the care they need, while care professionals spend more time managing data and software.
The digital marketplace for healthcare is growing. For UX designers, this means opportunity as well as necessity. UX in healthcare is more important than ever before, but to develop the experiences patients need, designers first have to understand why.
The COVID-19 pandemic hurried what was a slow shift towards digital networks and care services. In just the first quarter of 2020, the CDC recorded a 50% jump in telehealth utilization, as patients sought out care from the safety and convenience of their own homes.
This transition would have been impossible without advancements in modern care technology. From 5G integration to the expansion of cloud data services for medical records, the healthcare industry is changing. These are just a few of the technologies that users have come to rely on to get the help they need:
- Artificial Intelligence in diagnostics, service, and support.
- Wearables that track fitness and health metrics.
- Telehealth systems for video conferencing, check-ins, and even diagnostic screening.
Just a few years ago, the widespread application of these devices might have seemed unlikely. However, the popularity of these tools continues to grow in a pandemic environment in which public health remains the focus and health risks are enhanced.
The modern era demands systems that go far beyond traditional paper filing and clunky administrative communication that were previously the norm across the medical field. With a global population of nearly eight billion people, we need all the help we can get in easing the demand on our limited health care professionals and resources while providing safe and exceptional experiences for those in need of healthcare.
The rise of electronic health records (EHRs) has been instrumental in making innovative and scalable medical solutions possible. However, these records by nature rely on virtual connectivity. Wherever a system connects to the internet, it represents a vulnerability that cybercriminals are quick to exploit, and these days, the threat of cyber-attack has grown exponentially. Online criminals, encouraged by the fear and concerns of the time, are targeting valuable medical data at an unprecedented rate.
Patients understand that virtual healthcare experiences may put their private medical information more at risk. However, this is a risk many are willing to take if it means the patients can avoid a threat to their physical bodies. With this in mind, UX designers must redouble their efforts to create a highly personalized and navigable platform that leaves users feeling safe and cared for.
No matter what comes of the coronavirus and all its variants in the future, patients of all backgrounds will continue to be drawn to the convenience and potential of digital and mobile healthcare applications. From telehealth to Fitbit, the tools we use are changing and our expectations with them.
- Personalized experiences
- Data integrity
- Value to the user
Big data means that personalized experiences are possible, but such an experience must be reflected within the UX. Users should be able to see their medical information and manage the details of their care in a way that is easy to understand and centered on their human experiences. This means keeping data protected in terms of HIPAA standards and following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to enhance online accessibility.
But to cultivate true value for users, you have to understand their situations and what they need most out of a care experience. During a pandemic, safety is an essential consideration both in terms of avoiding exposure to COVID and in protecting personal data. Even after the pandemic, though, using a mobile app to set up a curbside prescription pick-up order could offer untold value to users through saved time and effort.
Carefully designed, inclusive experiences will be key to enhancing healthcare accessibility and potential within the digital age. Rigorously explore what this means to your user base through extensive user testing and feedback. A great UX design promotes transparency, safety, and convenience. These will be some of the cornerstones of digital healthcare as the industry continues to change.
The healthcare industry is changing. Amid all this technological innovation and shifting practices, UX designers must be at the forefront of innovating patient-focused experiences that translate to true value and greater care accessibility for the patients that need them most.
The pandemic has changed the way we think of healthcare, and technology has enabled new solutions. As you build the tools patients and care facilities need to communicate, coordinate, and care for human beings, consider the importance of user experience as it applies to the industry. The first step in this process will always be to evaluate the needs of your users and explore virtual solutions to their challenges.
A transformative world of medical solutions is possible through our connected devices. It’s up to UX designers like you to ensure that these experiences are available to the wide range of users that need them. Start by exploring the rising importance of UX in healthcare, then create these experiences through effective design.