5 min read

Designing With Care for Healthcare

Each industry has its own challenges when it comes to design, but designing for healthcare is especially complicated. Picture yourself as a patient. How do you feel? You are probably in pain, confused about what is happening, scared about what the doctor might tell you, and uncertain about the future. Add a digital platform to the equation and things get even murkier. People don’t feel many complicated emotions when interacting with online platforms for watching movies or buying new shoes. But a lot of extra care and caution has to be taken when designing for healthcare.

Following government norms outlined for Healthcare

Designers have to keep in mind the government regulations and guidelines for healthcare platforms because this sector is rightly highly regulated and controlled. Any healthcare platform deals with a ton of highly sensitive information like medical records and test results. Strict rules have to be followed to keep the data secure and private. But as technology develops, the regulations keep changing. That means that as product managers, you have to create in-built agility in the healthcare platform to withstand any major changes in the rules and regulations. This complicates things even further. 

Keeping people at the center

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But over and over, one thing has been found to help when designing for healthcare and has consistently improved outcomes. And that is, keeping people at the center. The top five healthcare trends in the country right now are telemedicine, wearables, chatbots, AR and VR, and digital healthcare records. These five healthcare UX/UI trends are only going to continue to grow in popularity and demand, especially in the era after Covid-19. With a well-designed telemedicine interface, people can receive the same quality of care at home as they would at a clinic. People are increasingly using wearables to monitor and detect medical conditions. Human-like chatbots interact with people and reassure them about their concerns. AR and VR can help medical professionals train and diagnose and digital health records store private files safely online for easy access. This sector will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years.

Empathetic Human-Centric Interfaces that understand human needs

Human-centered design involves understanding the needs of the users and driving all decisions in platform design to meet those needs. It requires us to understand the people who the design is for. Incorporating empathy into your design means building inclusive and collaborative systems that make the users active participants in the process. Offering personalized experiences based on the needs and desires of each individual will further the goal of making the users feel more human. The design should treat the users as experts about their own health experiences and challenges and not as passive subjects to be measured and manipulated. Adding more avenues for the patient and doctors to communicate will go a long way to removing the isolation one might feel when receiving remote healthcare. The human-centered design process may require teams to go back again and again to the drawing board in order to develop a platform that users like to use and adopt. 

Sensitively crafted to mimic real-life interactions

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Designing healthcare shouldn’t focus on functionality alone. It should try to be familiar to the patient whose life it impacts. Human-centric design forms a connection with the end-user, makes their lives a little easier, and comforts them when they feel alone. Being authentic and genuine while delivering care can be the most critical function of healthcare platforms.

The online healthcare experience has to be thoughtfully crafted to be a positive experience for the patients. This positive user experience is where healthcare UX and UI come into play. The design has to be planned in such a way that patients don’t feel overwhelmed or confused about using the platform. Since they are probably already not feeling well, it’s important that usability issues from app design don’t end up adding any undue stress.

Eradicating incidence of errors from the platform

Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death and there should be no stone left unturned during the process to make sure that these errors do not happen because of the design. There will need to be multiple iterations of the platform before you can get it completely right.

To do this well, UX methodologies have to be incorporated into planning from the very beginning and not added later as an afterthought. It will involve a lot of research to understand exactly what the users need and what problem of theirs we are trying to fix. A healthcare platform should seek meaningful input from its patients. Listening to end-users and using what you learn to guide the development of the platform or, better yet, inviting them to participate in the process would be ideal.

Expertise Derived From Empathy and Emotion

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For the layman, medicine can be complex and intimidating. It can make patients feel fear and confusion. The drive behind good healthcare design should be to make the platform as little intimidating as possible. This can be done by simplifying language, using images or icons instead of words, using soothing colours and bright colour accents, etc. It will make users enjoy using the app and make them feel emotions other than fear or confusion. The interface design should always evoke positive and pleasant emotions to create a feeling of safety and trust in the patient. 

Forge a personal connect with users

The design of the platform will require in-depth research to gain deep insights regarding user concerns. Then the platform should try to allay these concerns and fears. Patients need to feel like they’re being cared for, even if they are talking to a machine. If they have a negative experience because of a poorly designed machine, it may make them hesitant to try online healthcare in the future.

An easy way to do this is by giving the users instances to provide feedback at every stage of the process and then incorporating it into the process. Enabling sufficient communication channels between the user and the expert will enable a greater sense of trust which will sustain adoption.

Design for different competencies and levels of understanding

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UX designers also need to design for different types of patients, taking into account characteristics like the user’s age, gender, mental state, language, cultural background, and tech skills. Accessibility features should be part of the inclusive design of the platform. While accessibility is important in any platform, it is almost an essential part of healthcare apps. Healthcare platforms are meant to be used by people with different visual and hearing abilities, ages, physical and psychological characteristics. It has to be designed so that it can be accessible to each potential user.

Conclusion

The process of designing healthcare interfaces is a thorough one that requires great effort to come up with something that is usable, trustworthy, and error-free. While the aspects to consider are countless, if done right, you can create a user experience that helps people in the most fundamental ways.

Published by Ravina Malik

Sr. Visual Designer

Ravina Malik Sr. Visual Designer