Improving healthcare experience for patients during wait times and empowering doctors with the right tools
Making it easy and efficient to search and sign home rentals based on the user's preferences without being scammed
Wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences. Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish. In certain instances, they can also result in poorer medical outcomes—transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities. In many instances, patients may also have to forgo their wages while they wait for treatment, resulting in an economic cost to the individuals themselves and the economy in general.
Read more about healthcare wait times.
The total wait time that patients face can be examined in two consecutive segments.
From referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist. The waiting time in this segment increased from 8.7 weeks in 2018 to 10.1 weeks in 2019. This wait time is 173% longer than in 1993 when it was 3.7 weeks. The shortest waits for specialist consultations are in Quebec (7.2 weeks) while the longest occur in Prince Edward Island (28.8 weeks).
From the consultation with a specialist to the point at which the patient receives treatment. The waiting time in this segment decreased from 11.0 weeks in 2018 to 10.8 weeks this year. This wait time is 92% longer than in 1993 when it was 5.6 weeks, and about three and one-half weeks longer than what physicians consider to be clinically “reasonable” (7.2 weeks). The shortest specialist-to-treatment waits are found in Ontario (8.0 weeks), while the longest is in Prince Edward Island (20.5 weeks).
Read more on wait times now compared to 1990-2000.
How might we provide emergency wait-time information to patients so that they have the knowledge and data to choose their options during wait-time?
A mobile application functioning as an information repository for patients during wait times.
Improve wait-time experience for patients by supporting them with the information they need during wait-times and connect them to available services.
Oncare was a design sprint project completed in a week. The Double Diamond Design Approach was followed. The design thinking process was split up into 4 phases: Starting with research, moving on to synthesis, ideation, testing, and ending with finalized designs.
Patients need decreased wait times from the point of consultation to the point the patient receives treatment.
Patients need information on why there is wait times associated with speciality consultation or diagnostic scan.
Patients wish to know on how to cope up with wait times.
Patients wish to know if they can move their consultation dates up the chain.
COVID 19 incresed patient wait times across Canada by a factor of 3. We had only a week to work on this project going from UX research to prototyping and usability testing.
The timeline was not enough to conduct stakeholder interviews with doctors, nurses, care takers, health ministry and other government officials.
The solution would be used by people with accessibility issues and should be designed around it.
The project started with UX research to identify the problems patients felt during wait times. Secondary research was done to validate the problem space and assumptions.
median waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment from a specialist physicians
for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
> 4 weeks
to see a specialist
Qualitative data from user interviews were used to get an understanding of the food wastage occurring.
Above 21 years of age
Booked an appointment at a health clinic/hospital in the last 6 months
Referred by a doctor to get a diagnostic medical service such as CT scan, MRI scan, X-Ray, or blood tests
Expert and Stakeholder Interviews
User Interview Questions
Tell me about a time you booked an appointment with the doctor?
If you are comfortable, please do share why you went to the doctor?
Tell me about a time when you were referred to a diagnostic imaging center by a doctor?
Tell me about the process you had to go through for taking the ___ scan?
How were the wait times?
Did you enquire about getting the wait times reduced?
What information did you enquire about?
What was the answer to the inquiry?
Did you get the scan from the referred center?
What alternatives did you check due to the wait times?
What information did you find about the wait times for the scan/surgery?
What information would have aided you in that time?
How would having that information help you with making an informed decision?
What do you suggest as a potential solution for the problems you are facing/faced?
How would you use a potential solution?
Primary and secondary research conducted provides loads of data that are unusable without proper synthesis. The synthesis steps vary according to the research method used to collect data and according to the number of participants. Empathy map and deriving insights from keywords are common synthesis methods.
Research Synthesis Methods
Empathy Mapping helps in understanding the needs of the user, how they think and feel, what the motivations/goals are and, what their pains are. It induces empathy in the designer for the user.
Thematic analysis of interview transcripts helped identify patterns in the data. Important parts are put on stickies. The relations/patterns are found between stickies and organized into groups.
Based on the insights from the user interviews, a primary user persona was created. This persona worked as points of focus for the segment of the users to be kept in mind while designing. The persona conveys traits, behaviors, personal goals, frustrations, pain points, direct quotes, and motivations of the potential users I interviewed.
User stories are created to find scenarios that the user would find herself/himself engaging in while using the application. It helps in easily noting down the needs and wants of the user in a particular problem space. The user story is the start to finish of interaction from the user with the application for a single task.
Deducing the opportunity to make a difference
Based on the user stories, the opportunity selected for design intervention was accessing information during wait-times. The user stories revolve around a patient trying to access information regarding a symptom that suddenly appeared while she/he was waiting for her scan.
Synthesized research insights help in the ideation process of a solution. I began by noting down ideas to tackle the problem. The ideation phase is the most enjoyable part of product design as you get to draw out the solution and think over it multiple times, iterating each time a new idea pops up. The first step was to create user stories and tasks.
Task Flow Diagram
A task flow diagram is drawn out based on the standout epic in the user story. The user story here is to accessing information during wait-times. The task flow diagram lists out tasks to be performed by the user, system states in between, and screen needed for the task.
The core task is to access information during wait-times.
Sketching out variations of screens for the chosen task flows was the next step. These sketches went through many iterations. Sketches aid in scribbling down design ideas easily and effectively. The sketch shown below is version 3.
From the finished sketches for the project, I moved into creating the wireframes for level 1 user testing. The feedback from level 1 user testing was used to create a version 2 wireframe prototype. User testing was done again and the feedback was incorporated into version 3. The feedback received from user testing after version 3 was reviewed and implemented as per the Effort and Impact of the change. The wireframe shown below has feedback included after user testing wireframe version 2.
Wireframe and Information Architecture
Wireframing is done as per the sketches for user testing. Information Architecture is as per the image shown below. This hierarchy is based on user tests and iterations.
Most important functions on tap from the home page
Medical Information, Insurance Information, and things to know for most important information needed for the user are available directly from the home page.
Doctors need an interface where they can create patient files, reports, reply to messages, host audio, and video calls as per need. This helps in providing an experience that's tailored to the user who is using it.
The Moodboard reflects a feel which is to give a health feel. This color palette was used both in branding and for applying visual design.
Mental models used in digital experiences should mimic real-world experience to be intuitive.
Initial research can make or break a product. Don’t make the solution be a problem for the user.
Design with constraints from the start. Focus on one core task.
User interviews reveal a lot of unexpected information and make it possible to adapt the product to users’ needs.
The usability test is surprising. Most of the time behavioral tendencies trump attitudinal tendencies.
Users are always RIGHT!
Minimum viable product (iOS)
Insights from Interviews
“It is mentally and physically tiring to wait too long for a scan without having information about my present health status.”
The usability test lead to the following improvements on the core experience of the application:
Upcoming appointments not available
Have to go to the home screen to book an appointment
Too much clutter in the emergency information screen
The layout for the home screen can be tweaked to include Wait time information screen features
Consult my doctor and bottom navigation bar message icon has the same function
Too much clutter in the emergency information screen
Layout for home screen is clutter less
Search symptoms are missing from the home page
Square cards are functional for application features
Book an appointment can be moved to the bottom navigation bar
The upcoming appointments screen does not list the time of appointment.
The search symptoms bar is buried inside the emergency symptoms information page.
The colors of sent and received messages in the chats are indistinguishable.
There is no back icon in messages to get back to the home screen.
The plus icon is confusing with the border.
Emergency symptoms page search detail changed to “No result found, please contact your doctor”
Location updated in Upcoming Appointment Details with navigate and address
Search Icon and Profile Icon in Upcoming Appointment Details page deleted
Book an appointment chat in messages used as a link to book an appointment page
The home page icon ‘Noticed Emergency Symptoms’ changed to ‘Symptoms to look out for during wait-times
High Fidelity Design
Wireframes are turned into High fidelity design using the colors derived from the mood board.
Checking for appointment details
The usability tests indicated that users need upcoming appointments on the home page. The search bar was added to all screens as per user feedback.
Booking an appointment
The functionality helps in booking an appointment for a test to checkup. The appointment is confirmed after checking the symptoms and notes provided by the patient. This is in line with the stakeholder direction that appointments can only be set as per doctor discretion.
Messaging in case of emergencies
Messaging a doctor is direct and can be navigated directly from the bottom navigation bar. Booking an appointment is also direct if the doctor advises as the link directly sends the user to book appointment screen.
Emergency Symptoms Information
Primary User Research indicated patients would need symptoms information that would appear in the emergency wait period time frame.