Good healthcare is a sign of a civilised society. Our ability to provide healing and care, and to continuously improve and innovate how it is provided has been a growth marker for humanity through the ages.
Technology is a core empowerer and innovator in all industries. The healthcare industry also follows closely with new innovations in technology to provide better treatment and to improve their reach. Given how quickly the technological and healthcare landscape changes within a few years, good UX becomes fundamental in keeping new applications and tools accessible to the public.
How important is good UX in healthcare?
The healthcare industry's reliance on technology is ever growing. Quite apart from medical innovations, just factoring the way we coordinate and receive care has changed drastically. Mobile technology plays a large role in how we handle our healthcare requirements. From booking an appointment, to receiving medical advice and consultations, and pharmaceutical services, everything can be done without ever visiting a physical location.
There are other factors that are pushing for better UX in healthcare. Including:
- Further spread and use of internet services
- Better global acclimatisation with mobile technology
- Widespread mobile usage
- An ageing population
- Repetitive pandemic situations
While all of these factors demand better solutions for distance care, we have to provide it in a way that is comfortable and accessible to everyone.
Without good UX design applications may still be functional, but they won't be usable. For healthcare this means that people will not be able to access services that can literally save their lives, or increase their quality of life. A good UX design needs to take into account not only functionality, but accessibility, and usability.
Creating a UX strategy for healthcare
A good UX strategy ensures that a product is usable by the largest possible percentage of its target market. In the case of healthcare, this target market is very wide and varied, with multiple age groups, and different levels of tech savviness.
When designing the UX for a product we have to consider all these angles, and create a strategy that works best for all demographics. A few things to consider are:
- Easy onboarding
- Contrasting colour schemes
- Simple navigation
- Easy to interpret icons and language etc
- Remember that even the most tech savvy teenager may not be in the best frame of mind when in need of healthcare.
- We should also consider customisations to suit the differently abled whenever possible.
- Configurable text size
- Colourblind options
- Text to speech
- Large icons mode
Are all ways that we can make applications accessible to a larger community of users.
New trends in healthcare
There are already many innovations in healthcare that follow good UX practices. These products and applications help to save lives, provide comfort, and increase your quality of life.
Internet connected wearables are becoming more popular in the healthcare industry. While many of these started as simple products to track exercise, they have since evolved to monitor blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, sleep patterns, power levels, and many other health related information. While this may seem intrusive and a complete disregard for privacy, we can also configure what information if any we want to share with health providers. This type of technology can be invaluable for ageing patients or others with life threatening conditions.
While not a new concept, tele-consultation has gained in popularity over the last couple of years, especially due to the COVID pandemic. The ability to consult a healthcare professional without ever having to leave your home, increases the level of comfort and reduces the time and risk of commuting with a patient.
Data driven health decisions
Due to applications such as the COVID tracking app, health professionals are able to collect and analyse large amounts of data, helping to identify and manage clusters, provide more effective treatment, and provide an overall better experience to the public.
While all of these innovations and more help to make our lives safer and more comfortable, it is also important to note that they are only as useful as they are usable. People are not going to spend hours trying to figure out how to use a telemedicine application, or days trying to onboard a COVID application to upload their status. A good UX strategy is essential to help people to identify with a product, and promotes its usage.
The healthcare industry is a vibrant and changing landscape. New innovations are constantly coming out to help people improve their quality of life. While these innovative products move on the cutting edge of technology, sometimes, their UX doesn't. This leads to an invariable failure in adoption and a lack of confidence in these products. A good UX strategy can help to bridge this gap by making products that users can identify with and are easy to use.