The Principles of Ethical UX Design In Healthcare

Macadamian Technologies | August 27, 2021 | 3 Min Read

With healthcare becoming more digital, it’s important to consider ethical UX design principles that put the needs of the user first in our online world.

When you bring together healthcare, people, and technology, you’re bound to come across the subject of ethics.

Ethics are a system of moral principles concerned with what is good for individuals and society at large. In the realm of UX design, ethics entails many things, including creating experiences that are in the best interest of the user. This means design decisions should include a user experience that is trustworthy, honest and reputable. This is part of ethical design in healthcare UX.

Ethical design is especially important today when we are seeing the continued use of Dark Pattern UX—a term coined by UX designer Harry Brignull in 2010. It refers to the use of design decision tricks on various apps and websites to make the user do things they weren’t intending on doing.

It’s not something you would associate with an ethical designer or the moral principles around ethical design.

With that in mind, let’s look at four principles of ethical UX design in healthcare that can help you build user journeys that are conducive to a trustworthy and honest user experience.


Data Collection

With the digital transformation of healthcare, we’re seeing the continued rise of data reigning supreme in the healthcare environment. Yet even with all this data, there is a push for collecting as little data as possible.

Do you really need to know a user’s location or email address for the app experience to work? And what’s in it for the user when you collect these, or any other, data points? Data can make the user experience more personalized, but keep in mind that collecting private user data might make some users leery of logging into your app.



Isn’t it the worst when you purchase something through an app and just as you head to checkout, the price of your purchase jumps up thanks to hidden costs? This is something that can happen in the e-commerce environment, and not just in digital healthcare.

If you want to keep your users happy, be clear and upfront about all the added costs that come with that health-app subscription. Otherwise, you might be left with a sour user experience due to a design decision that doesn’t have the best interest of the user in mind.


Privacy Policy

Privacy policies aren’t something many people read or enjoy reading. Knowing this, it’s important to not hide important information for your user in the deep chasms of your privacy policy. That isn’t ethical design now, is it? Yes, privacy policies are needed, but it’s important to recognize that users should know up front that, for example, your health app will collect their online search habits even when the app isn’t running.


Simplifying Cancellation

In the realm of dark UX is a pattern called the roach motel, which makes it easy for a user to get into a specific situation, but difficult to get out of it. It can happen when the user is trying to cancel a subscription, for example, and they can’t axe it without getting on the phone with a representative who makes the user go through multiple hoops prior to cancelling.

If you’re looking to incorporate ethical design into your healthcare app, avoid the roach motel at all costs. It does a disservice to your users and creates an untrustworthy user experience.

Get Email Updates

Get updates and be the first to know when we publish new blog posts, whitepapers, guides, webinars and more!

Suggested Stories

Increasing Patient Engagement Using Behavior Design

Increasing patient engagement is easier said than done. In this video course, you'll learn how thoroughly understanding the behavior of health consumers can allow stakeholders to increase patient engagement.

Read More

Voice UI Design Best Practices

Voice assistants are poised to transform customer engagement as well as business models. Discover why voice is the next digital frontier – and what you should know about voice-first solutions.

Read More

Structuring Multidisciplinary Software Teams

5 strategies we've learned from working with the biggest names in software for structuring multidisciplinary software teams to get amazing software out the door fast.

Read More
Macadamian has been acquired by Emids 🎉
This is default text for notification bar