My role: Product Designer (student project)
Today unlike ever before, we expect signing up for a new service and jumping into using it are efficient and fast. We can order a meal, get a ride or book a vacation in a few clicks. Completing tasks integral to our lives has become more streamlined across industries. Telemedicine offers an opportunity for healthcare to meet our modern expectations and reduce costs for patients, providers and payers.
By connecting patients with medical providers through video calls, telemedicine benefits patients by
- Reducing travel
- Reducing wait times
- Reducing exposure to disease (flu season especially)
- Increasing availability outside traditional clinic hours
- Expanding access to specialists in underserved areas
- Expanding access to assisted living facilities caregivers and medical staff
Through industry research and a survey of 20 Seattle residents ages 23 to 86, we found three patient populations to focus on
- Young people navigating healthcare independent of their parents
- Older adult patients with a chronic condition
- Patients in rural and low-income areas where specialists are scarce
Due to limitations of access to a rural audience, we chose to focus on young people setting up their own healthcare and patients with chronic diseases. Our approach was to create an ideal journey for both, and from there create a unified experience accommodating both populations.
Spring Telemedicine succeeds when it can offer faster, reliable access to an expert provider. Our goal is to help patients receive more lasting and relationship-based care founded on the trust and history necessary to accurately diagnose and maintain health.
Concept and sketches
It was fun to think through the needs of these different audiences and to translate them into features of a unified system. After an initial set of sketches and brainstorming, I came up with 5 key areas (onboarding, patient account area, provider selection and the video screen experience) to solve for—guided by an experience blueprint for navigation and user journeys.
Helping people understand how the service works is crucial and deserves extra attention. Patients are taking a leap of faith that they will be able to get reliable care. Services don't often get a second chance to make a good first impression. Our user research indicated it would be critical to articulate the benefit of the service versus an in-person visit, and to be transparent about why sharing personal and medical information was necessary.
I chose to focus on the mobile experience because it would force me to edit down to the essentials.
The design had to account for accessibility for older adults.
- Underline text to indicate link
- Clear labels of links and navigation elements
- No horizontal scrolling
- Ample white space
- No blues or yellows
- No jargon and consideration for non-native English speakers
- Minimum text size: 16px
- No thin or light styles
- Left align text
- Line width = font size x line height
Results and refinements
My initial flow proved cumbersome for users who wanted to quickly schedule an appointment. While it was fewer screens than my final solution, it was more of a cognitive load. I decided to split up the how-to steps into separate images in an advancing carousel that went through how-to steps in the upper portion of the screen. I removed forms required to schedule an appointment opting to collect missing information through follow-up email and in-app messages. Users also need to be told about conditions telemedicine alone can't accommodate—those that require cultures, blood work and physical exams in-person at a clinic to set expectations.
I also heard from test users about the ambiguity of who is responsible for initiating the appointment. Users preferred the doctor start the appointment with a direct video call. Initially I considered a waiting room area, but a direct call by the doctor was preferred. I applied this feedback by removing unnecessary interactions and adjusted the language to set that expectation.
For follow-up communication and confirmations, users preferred text and email over in-app messages. They admitted to ignoring app notifications or outright turning them off.
What I learned
I created an experience agnostic to whether the care aligns to urgent care, primary care or specialist care. Today the dominant use case is for urgent care. More thought and experimentation needs to go into accounting for the differences of these types of care.
Insights from a primary care doctor who currently works virtually for a telemedicine company pointed to the crucial role of patient expectations. The lack of testing: cultures, bloodwork and others, limits a virtually-based diagnosis and requires patients to go into a clinic or hospital. Setting the expectation of these limitations should be included in the initial steps of the service.
A doctor is not just a fixer, but an educator. A lot of what happens during these calls, much like during an in-personal appointment, is the doctor empowering patients to understand their bodies and health better. That is where the virtual model has great potential.