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 that may also use — or be influenced by — patient software.
In a healthcare setting, a number of user groups will be affected by the implementation of patient-facing 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 that those areas of the patient software address their particular concerns and, ultimately, enhance their daily workflow. For a front desk worker, concerns could include proper scheduling, collecting accurate and up-to- date insurance information and ensuring that it is valid, and identifying the reason for an appointment.
Nurses are being given more and more responsibilities, including triage and working closely with patients that have chronic conditions. They may be entering patient data into the system, face numerous distractions, and are not tolerant of a complicated system with a lot of data entry.
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 portal in order to see and understand the patient’s treatment and medication history.
Some patients may wish to use patient software but be unable to for health or technological reasons. In many cases, a caregiver (be it a professional caregiver or family member) may be the individual 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.
Patient software facilitates collaboration between the care team and the patient. As with patients and clinicians, you will need to identify the particular goals of these stakeholders through formal user research techniques, and determine the degree to which
the patient software should accommodate them. As the table on the following page illustrates, each stakeholder group will benefit differently from patient software. By ensuring that 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.