The healthcare industry continues to evolve its use of smart devices, ranging from wearable technology to remote monitoring, but with innovation brings new obstacles in meeting patients’ needs. As UX researchers and designers, we have played a key role in helping design solutions to these complex problems; we focus on the patient’s needs while practicing user-centric design. Keeping a pulse on both UX and healthcare industry trends, we have identified three UX trends impacting healthcare technology this year:
There are still opportunities to bridge the gap in UX design and have diversity and inclusivity be reflected. It’s important to have design equity particularly in the healthcare space because it can have life or death impacts. Inclusive design should be incorporated in the early stages of product development to ensure that the device will be accessible to all intended users.
It’s challenging to know what an equitable design may include, but there are measures to help meet the needs of marginalized communities. One example to ensure that they are represented is to have marginalized groups included in early testing so the product will meet their needs and expectations. And many times, design recommendations resulting from these sessions would be applicable to other user groups. Taking into account the various characteristics of users while creating a clear and concise interface will improve the experience in healthcare devices, and many times, improve the lives of often ignored user groups.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers have been expanding the use of telehealth to deliver care safely. Providers have generally embraced the use of telehealth as part of their practice, but still face challenges implementing the new tools and technologies. The National Poll of Healthy Aging reported an increase of telehealth usage by seniors from 4% in May 2019 to 26% in June 2020. Although seniors may be using tech products, it reflects the need to design telehealth products while considering all users.
An example of how to encourage telehealth adoption is to design technology that utilizes the user’s own device features that they are already familiar with, like mobile phone accessibility features (magnifier tools, text size and colors, and notifications). This increased technology adoption may help bridge the gap between healthcare providers and their patients.
Telehealth visits require clinical information to be reviewed in advance by an HCP but reviewing all the information can be a challenging task. COVID-19 forced rapid evolution of the technology because of the higher risk associated with in-person visits. As these systems are improved, including HCPs in the product development process through UX research will help programmers and designers understand how and where the platform is being used and therefore design a platform that works better for and is more readily adopted by both HCPs and patients.
Augmented and virtual reality
Augmented reality and virtual reality applications are impacting the healthcare industry with a wide variety of possibilities. Whether it’s helping to teach complex procedures in medical school, diagnosing medical conditions, or creating a calm, immersive environment to relax patients, augmented and virtual reality will be impacting the healthcare industry for years to come. Designing these experiences must be done in the same way we design product experiences. In what context will the user engage with the experience? How will the user interact with it? Does the user trust the technology? Answering these questions will support user acceptance and adoption of this high-end tech.
A growing focus on inclusive design, better designed telehealth applications, and increased AR and VR integrations grabbing headlines this year within the UX industry, means a promising outlook for a more adopted, effective, and comfortable patient and HCP experience in the future. As users continue to establish trust with a better experience, we will discover more ways this technology can better serve us.