Identify Additional Stakeholders & Consider Their Needs
Patients and clinicians are unquestionably the primary users of patient portals and other patient health systems, but they are not the only stakeholders. To develop a truly effective and usable solution, you must be aware of the ‘hidden’ actors who may also use — or be influenced by — patient software.
Understand the stakeholder value chain
In a healthcare setting, a number of user groups will be affected by the implementation of patient software. These stakeholders often have conflicting needs, so you will need to understand their goals — and what they need to have in order to accomplish them — to mitigate conflict and satisfy the key users. In a typical healthcare environment, you will encounter the following groups who will either use or be affected by patient software:
• Reception or Front Desk Workers: Workers at the front desk play an administrative role and are especially concerned with scheduling and billing. You will need to ensure those areas of the patient software address their particular goals and, ultimately, enhance their daily workflow. For a front desk worker, these goals could include proper scheduling, collecting insurance information and ensuring that it is valid, and identifying the reason for an appointment.
• Nurses: Nurses are being given more and more responsibilities, including triage and working closely with patients who have chronic conditions. They may be entering patient data into the system and are normally very rushed so they will not tolerate a lot of data entry.
• Other Clinicians: Patients with acute or chronic ailments may also need to see a number of different specialists and educators. These clinicians may also wish to have access to the patient software in order to see and understand the patient’s treatment and medication history.
• Care Givers: Some patients may wish to use patient software but are unable to for health or technological reasons. In many cases, a care giver (be it a professional care giver or family member) may be accessing and updating the patient record. Unlike a nurse, the care giver’s level of medical knowledge could range from low to high. The portal therefore needs to use simple language that can be easily understood by those unfamiliar with medical terminology.
By ensuring you’ve captured the user requirements for all stakeholders (or have, at a minimum, understood them) you will be in a better position to assess their interdependent relationships and processes. This knowledge is key to de-risking the important design decisions you will need to make when developing or updating your patient software.
Developing Engaging Patient Software
patients — and their desired experience. Through formal user research and the development of patient personas, healthcare software vendors and healthcare institutions can identify the key goals of the most important patient groups, and architect the design to satisfy their particular needs. While clinicians have a set of concerns that must be addressed, patients have a completely different set of expectations and requirements and should be the focus of the patient software development process.
By designing to patient goals without stepping over the concerns of clinicians and other stakeholders, you can keep users engaged, which is first step to a successful solution. While patient software adoption rates have been low to date, the ideas behind patient software are gradually becoming more and more accepted. Successful sites such as www.patientslikeme.com and Kaiser Permanente’s My Health Manager demonstrate that momentum is building and patients are keen to adopt systems that directly address their particular needs.
Software vendors and health institutions need to decide whether they want to be on the leading edge of the patient software movement or sit on the sidelines to wait and see what happens. For those on the leading edge, the techniques and suggestions listed in series will help you deliver what patients really want, and what clinicians will actually use.
To read the series in its entirety, download the whitepaper How to Create Engaging Patient Software
About the Author
Lorraine Chapman is a management and User Experience Research professional at Macadamian Technologies. In addition to her role as Director of User Experience Research, Ms. Chapman has provided a broad range of clients (within the Healthcare, Telecommunications, Government, and Finance sectors) with strategic direction on business, product and customer issues. This experience includes product value analysis, user requirements research (both qualitative and quantitative) and usability analysis/evaluation of websites, services (eCommerce and eBusiness), applications, software, hardware and documentation. Lorraine can be reached at email@example.com