A Guide to User-Centered Healthcare Software Design and Development

Considering Additional Stakeholders

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.

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 portal in order to see and understand the patient’s treatment and medication history.

Care Givers:

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.

TIP: Interruption Storyboard

To better understand front desk workers and nurses potential interactions better, consider various research techniques to uncover their concerns and needs and utilize a storyboard to illustrate possible issues.

Patient Portal Considerations

Key Potential Benefits of PHRs and PHR Systems

Consumers, Patients and their Caregivers

  • Support wellness activities
  • Improve understanding of health issues
  • Increase sense of control over health
  • Increase control over access to personal health information
  • Support timely, appropriate preventive services
  • Support healthcare decisions and responsibility for care
  • Strengthen communication with providers
  • Verify accuracy of information in provider records
  • Support home monitoring for chronic diseases
  • Support understanding and appropriate use of medications
  • Support continuity of care across time and providers
  • Manage insurance benefits and claims
  • Avoid duplicate tests
  • Reduce adverse drug interactions and allergic reactions
  • Reduce hassle through online appointment scheduling and prescription refills Increase access to providers via e-visits

Healthcare Providers

  • Improve access to data from other providers and the patients themselves Increase knowledge of potential drug interactions and allergies
  • Avoid duplicate tests
  • Improve medication compliance
  • Provide information to patients for both healthcare and patient services purposes Provide patients with convenient access to specific information or services (e.g., lab results, Rx refills, e-visits)
  • Improve documentation of communication with patients


  • Improve customer service (transactions and information) Promote portability of patient information across plan Support wellness and preventive care
  • Provide information and education to beneficiaries


  • Support wellness and preventive care
  • Provide convenient service
  • Improve workforce productivity
  • Promote empowered healthcare consumers
  • Use aggregate data to manage employee health

Societal/Population Health Benefits

  • Strengthen health promotion and disease prevention Improve the health of populations
  • Expand health education opportunities

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