Does Digital Health Have a Future Without UX Designers?

A trusting doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of a better way of living.

When done right, technology can enhance this relationship — until it disrupts it. Digital health without great UX is like a staircase with uneven steps. Disconcerting and unintuitive, it leaves end users unhappy.

UX and Digital Health Collide at MentorMate Office

Earlier this week, MentorMate opened its doors to the Twin Cities UX Meetup, a quarterly gathering for local professionals working in user experience, design, and content creation. Attendees discussed what’s at stake when building better experiences in web- and mobile-based healthcare services.

Keynote speaker Riley Gerszewski, User Experience Designer at PointClickCare, led the conversation, speaking of his own personal and professional experiences at the intersection of healthcare and digital innovation.

“An appointment should no longer be the only contact between a patient and clinician during the recovery process. A well designed app using the Apple CareKit framework will help create additional touch-points between the patient and clinician. If a clinician is able to see a patient’s activity drop-off between appointments a simple check-in may be all it takes to re-engage that patient resulting in a better outcome. A text message, or even an emoji, could be the difference between a successful outcome and ongoing health issue.”
Riley Gerszewski

Don’t Squander Digital Health’s Potential with Poor UX

While technology has the possibility to make fractured patient care experience more complete, it is by no means the silver bullet for care delivery.

At its most innocuous, poor implementation of digital health amounts to a laptop inserted between the doctor and her patient.

At its worst, dictation software (intended to diminish manual data-entry and secure data) embarrasses patients and compromises their privacy when their personal information is repeated out loud in busy care settings.

While an app might help users track eating habits, for example, is that collected data made accessible to healthcare professionals? Do doctors actually want that information?

Too often, digital health solutions are helpful to either just the patient or the doctor, but not both. This explains why care experiences continue to be fractured, even with the implementation of the latest tools.

How Gamification is Catching on in Digital Health

Now, users who finish a workout can get your very own fireworks show on their watches. Talk about incentive.

Wellness regimes can’t always be interesting. But digital health products can play an important role in making otherwise mundane routines exciting and rewarding as they encourage healthier habits.

Games and personalized feedback help Colgate to engage users and improve oral health through its Colgate Connect solution.

Similarly, the Kinsa Smart Thermometer provides actionable information in a way that thermometers of the past could not. Offering both treatment suggestions and guidance for when to consult a doctor, these tools show the potential of digital tools to integrate with users typical health management patterns.

Other successful integrations of digital solutions in healthcare extend to diabetes care, medication tracking, HIPAA compliant data messaging, and beyond.

UX of Digital Health Will Only See More Hurdles

As complexities surrounding HIPAA compliance, PHI security, and data ownership continue to grow, so do the challenges faced by UX designers working in healthcare.

For example, what is the threshold of patient engagement in her digital-supported health regime, and what is the appropriate junction for intervention form a care professional?

The rapidly expanding market of digital care solutions may only serve to increase this grey area until regulation catches up with the technology. Wherever that fine line is, designers will need to provide communication channels that respect the privacy of the patient, but also the doctor’s bandwidth.

Participants also raised questions concerning the ethics of Apple’s dominance in terms of the hardware and software it provides to the growing digital health industry.

What does it mean when these innovative yet expensive products exclude entire swaths of the population with their price tags?

Join the Conversation

As new challenges in technology, UX, and healthcare are encountered with every new day, more questions are sure to arise. By opening up the conversation up to as many people as possible, our solutions can incorporate features that accommodate the diverse and complex people who can benefit from the convergence of the three realms.

The Twin Cities UX Meetup meets quarterly in locations around the Twin Cities. Check out their page to find information on past and future events.

Original post can be found here.

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Authored by
Stanislas Walden.

Stan loves to make the obscure more apparent, the complicated more human and approachable. He strives to communicate the complex themes inherent in software development trends in a way that sparks curiosity and invites exploration.When he’s not researching or publishing a new article, Stan enjoys running around a few of Minnesota’s many lakes and looking for new recipes.

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