UX research reveals common concerns from HCPs about telehealth technology

July 25, 2019

HCPs and Telehealth

by Chris Goesel, Kamila Lada

Part 1 ∙ UX research reveals common concerns from HCPs about telehealth technology

Pharmaceutical manufacturers and health IT developers are looking for ways to incorporate features into products that increase and improve communication channels between healthcare providers (HCPs), patients, and the patient care team. The goal is to facilitate quicker access to patient data and allow the care team to communicate remotely.

Advancements in technology have undeniably changed the way HCPs communicate with each other and the way they care for patients. While these changes may be viewed as positive by some, it is not the case for everyone. In the minds of HCPs, how does connectivity (and telehealth) improve the way they care for patients and collaborate with colleagues? What issues are solved vs. created? What problems are HCPs still seeking to solve in relation to the multitude of issues they face on a regular basis?

While conducting user experience (UX) research on mobile health (mHealth) applications, we noticed a trend in HCP feedback regarding the concept of alerts and telehealth that is not always positive and potentially indicative of a gap between user need and product design.

Why HCPs like the growing connectivity with their patients

During some recent UX research, HCPs said connectivity was a useful aide when it came to patient care. The ability to instantly obtain critical clinical information allowed them to diagnose and treat patients in a timelier manner, especially when on the go.

Further, patients may have various physicians (e.g., PCPs, specialists, etc.) assigned to their case and it is necessary for HCPs to communicate and discuss clinical findings with consulting doctors. The option to share specific findings across HCPs allows for immediate collaborative feedback resulting in better quality care.

However, while the idea of connectivity has its advantages, we also found HCPs raised some red flags about the technology.

Telehealth and alerts deemed problematic for some HCPs

Healthcare professionals are faced with many issues daily; patient safety, HIPAA compliance, and liability are top of mind. The idea of being accessible and having patient data and clinical information at their fingertips around the clock causes some HCPs to consider the potential downside of connectivity. Who is liable for responding to critical parameters when multiple HCPs have access to patient data at the same time? What if time-sensitive clinical information is missed when received as a mobile app notification? What if HCPs are overheard while dictating pertinent patient information to a mobile app? What if the wrong information is entered or shared such as medication dose, patient name, diagnoses, or test results? The idea of 24-hour accessibility made HCPs contemplate the potential shift in expectations for how they provide care to their patients.

The challenge for product designers is to keep these pros and cons in mind while creating a productive and safe environment for telehealth. Ultimately, doctors want to be doctors. They are in the profession to do no harm and engage in face to face with patients to improve their lives. The products designed to increase connectivity and make 24-hour anywhere care available to everyone should not be designed without the input from this user group who bring forward concerns and needs.

Our next blog in this series will dive a little deeper into liability and telehealth and its impact on the UX design of these applications. Stay tuned!