The Importance Of Personalization In Healthcare UX Design

Jennifer Fraser | September 24, 2021 | 4 Min Read

Healthcare organizations that aren’t personalizing the user experience risk being left behind as the industry becomes more patient centric. And that’s where healthcare UX design plays a key role.

As healthcare becomes more patient centered, organizations in the industry will need to leverage UX designers and researchers to develop experiences tailored to patients. We speak with Macadamian’s VP of Experience, Jennifer Fraser, to learn more about why personalization through UX design is necessary in healthcare today.


Macadamian: When we talk about personalization in healthcare UX, what does that look like?

Fraser: It’s partly about meeting people where they’re at in terms of their health so that we’re providing them with information that is relevant to them. It’s also about understanding the user. If, for example, I’m consuming your service or application, what do I want to do on my phone, versus what do I want to do on my watch, versus what do I want to do on my desktop? When it comes to personalizing, it’s about understanding how the person is consuming the content. The user should be able to choose to share information between different devices or applications or even among people within their care network.


Macadamian: How can we tell whether a product has successfully been personalized for its respective users?

Fraser: One way is through metrics. Consider how people engage with the product. Are people using it in the way you expected them to use it? Are usage patterns matching what you thought they would be? Also consider the frequency of use. If users are dropping off at a certain point in large numbers, you might need to do some user experience research to understand why the application isn’t being used the way you expected. Also, if you do some user experience research, you can then see if there are points of friction as people use the product or app.


Macadamian: There’s been a greater push for patient centricity in the healthcare environment. What role do UX designers play in this?

Fraser: I think both UX designers and UX researchers play a role in this. UX researchers help you learn about user goals as people interact with the product. UX researchers answer questions like, “What are users hoping to achieve? What value is the app bringing to them?” UX designers can then design the product to support people in achieving those goals more easily. With healthcare today, we’re realizing there’s a whole ecosystem that needs to be considered when thinking about the patient or user. You need to consider people, systems, product devices, different caregivers, and care providers. So the designers play a really key role in terms of looking at things more holistically across that whole patient ecosystem. And as well as across the user journey.

The Importance Of Personalization In Healthcare UX Design

Macadamian: What’s at stake if healthcare companies don’t produce products and experiences that are personalized?

Fraser: It’s pretty simple, people are going to leave. People are getting more and more used to having really customized retail experiences through websites as well as through physical experiences in stores. And those experiences are being customized based on information that retailers are gleaning from consumers. People are now expecting that same quality of experience across other services in their lives, from healthcare to banking. So people are going to simply migrate to the products and services that best meet their needs.


Macadamian: What role does data play in personalizing healthcare UX?

Fraser: Data is critical. Ultimately, your health information is data and once it’s digitized you can choose to share it with other products or with other people in your ecosystem as well. Data can be leveraged to try and predict behaviors. Data can help individual users understand their own behavior, and it can also be used across the product or app ecosystem to look at the behavior of others. Based on the pattern across a larger population, data can be used to provide the user with content that’s tailored to their needs.


Macadamian: How do we balance patient privacy while also delivering a personalized user experience?

Fraser: Be transparent. Be open and communicate to users how their information is being used. Give users control over how the product or app is using their information. Also consider the context, or environment, in which the information is being used. For example, if it’s an app that allows somebody to check into a doctor’s office, what things might you need to be aware of in terms of privacy—and controlling how the information is being displayed—so that people feel comfortable with the interaction that’s happening? That’s something to think about a lot when people look at delivering services through voice interactions. Consider who else could potentially overhear that interaction. What’s key is to give people control over what is and isn’t being shared.


Macadamian: The pandemic has pushed healthcare into the digital space and we’re seeing that with the continued growth of telehealth. In the future, do you see a greater need for UX designers and researchers in healthcare?

Fraser: Yes, yes, and yes. There will be a greater need for both UX healthcare designers and researchers because there’s so much work to be done. As you said, the pandemic ushered in the digitization of a lot of services and products that were done in an analog format earlier. There’s still so much work to be done to improve products, services, and experiences. A lot of things got pushed through in a small amount of time amid the pandemic. There’s a need to go back and fix the things that just got done really quickly as a result.


Macadamian: As a final question, I’d like to look at the needs of healthcare organizations with respect to healthcare UX. What should companies look for when adding UX-design talent to their teams?

Fraser: Firstly, consider both UX designers and researchers. You really need design and research working hand-in-hand to truly understand people’s needs, what they value, and then design the product to meet those needs. Instead of designing based on assumptions or opinions within the company, you really need to conduct end-user validation to make sure you’re meeting the needs of the people in the market. You also need to consider the integration of data science and user experience within your company. We already discussed how critical data is in the creation of personalized experiences based on user behavior. That data is both quantitative and qualitative. So it really means we need a tight integration between the user experience team and the data science team.

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