IXDA #60 – Shaping Healthcare

For a change of scenery, IxDA this month was in a small venue seating just 60, which I was lucky enough to get into and see a double-header focusing on how Healthcare is being disrupted like everything else – or not, at least in the same way, given various constraints that leave it as “the last analogue space in a digital world” (as I remember the quote!)

Frederike Wanstrath – SAP Health

The SAP Innovation Centre in Potsdam is a B2B (or is that B2M – Business to Medical?) organisation providing technology across the health services spectrum, with this presentation focusing mainly on interfaces used within hospital wards.

Frederike outlined numerous challenges to both Product Design and UX, for example:

  • Legal approval – given that people’s lives are often at stake, various levels of government sign-off are required, including testing, for example the FDA in the US
  • Data privacy – especially in Europe, patients need to be protected and have full control over their personal data. This in turn can limit opportunities to learn from patients as a large sample group, unless data can be sufficiently anonymised to protect individuals
  • Getting time and input from doctors – busy people who naturally have enough trouble treating patients in their care, let alone finding additional hours to work with UX researchers

The benefits of aggregated data, innovative technology and better UX are numerous. Seeing similar and aggregated treatment paths for chemotherapy, for example, might enable doctors to see common reactions at various points in the treatment journey, which in turn suggests or recommends what has or hasn’t worked before.

Distributing data capture – with most patients now having smart phones and being able to upload their own data via an app – means more motivated users and less reliance on doctors having to share notes and different perspectives. For the doctors themselves, better design and UX means that they can quickly get updates and prioritised information leading to (hopefully) better and quicker decisions.

One query I would like to have seen answered was around decision-making on how information is prioritised and used – what risks are there in how this influences the choice of treatment? Who makes the decision as to what is important? How do related pharmaceutical companies, for example, ensure ethical dilemmas in design are kept at arms length from their profit motive?

John Buckley – Frontend.com

John started with an interesting insight about the complicated landscape that Healthcare presents to traditional UX practice: rather than throwing together a few simple personas and scenarios for a typical consumer product, we have many layers of institutions, individual users and relationships between them:

His first simple case study involved needing to save money for a large client, but without changing “anything” about the product … lest FDA approval in the US be revoked.

Ironically, the solution to this challenge was out of scope – a problem was discovered in the broader customer experience, where small lettering for a prescription code (that needed to be read out when calling customer support) was chewing up time on each call. Increasing the lettering (proposed via a quick Photoshop mockup) saved on average 20 seconds per call, and in turn, $1.5 million over 2 years.

More recently, Frontend.com offered help with the migrant crisis of 2015, recognising that many of the people on the move would have both a need for medical care, and difficulties obtaining it along the way in different geographic locations.

Their award-winning solution was recognising the common use of smartphones in the group, linking appointments and prescriptions independent of location (stored in the cloud), and creating a digital labelling system that could be used on the go, as well as linked to information online in the user’s own language.

An impressive application of UX to help improve the world – for more information, click the link above or see this article – Mobile Tech Key to Migrant Health Care Solutions.

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