The Challenges Of UX In Healthcare: Technology To Change Lives

Blue Latitude Health|20th June 2018

 

This article was first published on Consortia.com

Image: freepik.com

We’re living in a world of quickly evolving technology – an age of virtual reality. The real question is, can we maintain the pace? Technology shapes how patients, healthcare professionals and companies now engage and interact with one another. While progressively we rely on technology, to ensure technological advancements change lives, companies will have to adapt their strategies to seize the new opportunities and methods of communication.

In this Q&A, recruitment agency Consortia speaks to BLH Director and Head of Customer Experience Elisa Del Galdo about the all-important topic of user experience (UX) in healthcare.

How is the UX sector changing with the emergence of new healthcare technologies?

EDG: The health-tech sector is one of the fastest growing in the world. As technology even more embedded, we’ll continue to need the skills of UX experts and we are likely to see the number of positions rise over the coming years. Medical industries now use more and more digital services, and this means there will be an increased need for UX skills in both research and design with the addition of a love for science.

UX is a key driver in the digital healthcare revolution and it will continue to modernise and improve the way healthcare services are designed and accessed by putting to work their skills in both research and design. Technological developments will become more accessible and fuel innovation and continue to take advantage of the new opportunities technology provides.

It’s an interesting career where you’re always developing and able work on many different areas and project types. It’s also very rewarding, we’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to really make an impact to patients’ outcomes and make a difference to their quality of life.

How do you use UX to improve patient access?

Healthcare is a complex industry. Patients’ needs are changing and a growing number of patients want to have more control over their own healthcare. It goes without saying that healthcare and welfare is an incredibly sensitive issue for many individuals. We want to ensure we are considering the patient’s expertise in their own illness and they feel confident about the treatment they are given.

To solve this challenge, UX designers are working tirelessly to bridge the gaps between patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and healthcare providers and meet the requirements of a connected but diverse set of stakeholders. There is also the added complication that this industry is highly regulated and risk adverse. And rightly so. This does have an impact on the UX practitioner particularly in research activities, but with experience, these hurdles can be more easily overcome.

The product, service, app or tool being designed is likely to require the UX practitioner to have a deep understanding of the relevant science or medicine. Design projects begin by carrying a research and insights stage used to inform the design. The context and content for which you are designing needs to be fully understood – including, the condition, treatments and the challenges an individual may face.

What challenges could tools, apps and devices create for the healthcare industry?

One of the challenges that the healthcare and pharma industry faces is the growing number of apps and devices, which monitor and track personal health. While these interventions are an innovative use of technology, they aren’t regulated by healthcare professionals and this can be problematic. To increase confidence in these apps and ensure desired outcomes genuine research with target users should be carried out to provide statistical evidence that demonstrates the desired outcomes for customers.

Which modern developments have room for improvement?

Patients can now sign up for an online GP service, which would give the impression of an improved user experience to patients- no more need to actually go into a doctor’s surgery. However, once you sign up for this service, you are dismissed by your GP surgery and there are only so many things a GP can assist a patient within a remote online consultation.

Closer collaboration between the GP’s using this digital platform and pharmacies would enable the patient to access a GP online and then visit the pharmacy in person. This could eliminate the need for the patient to visit the GP first. Or even the ability of the GP to determine if a surgery visit is required.

Not only would this save resources, it would also provide patients with a streamlined and simple process, which improves user experience and makes good health economic sense. The technology should be utilised to its full potential and continuously developed to ensure the best experience for all stakeholders not just patients, but GPs and pharmacists, as well as the healthcare system.

What are the technological innovations transforming healthcare services today?

One piece of cutting-edge tech is the Proteus Smart Pill, also known as the Abilify MyCite pill. The pill contains a sensor that sends data to a smartphone app and database, which the doctor can monitor.

The information allows doctors to see no only if the patient has adhered to their treatment but allows the collection of other biological data. This data provide essential feedback to a physician on possible side effects, or the treatments ability to delivered the desired outcome. It also gives family caregivers the chance to have much more knowledge of those in their care, e.g, a child. This technology of a chip in a pill has many uses, from monitoring for patients to that of clinical trials, understanding the impact of treatments, and just for those that forget to take their medication.

What are your top tips for those looking to start a career within the UX sector?

The quality of user experience begins at home. It’s important to employ a UX researcher and designer who has a profound interest in the industry, regardless of the stage a person is at in their career. Working in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry can be tough- sometimes it is slow going and there are legal and medical regulations that impact not only research methodology, but also has implications for design. It is also a very rewarding industry to work in and being in a situation where your research or design can make a difference to someone’s health or wellbeing makes it a privilege.

Blue Latitude Health are experts in UX in the healthcare space and work at multiple altitudes across a variety of therapy areas. Get in touch with simon.young@bluelatitude.com to find out how we can ensure you reach your goals.

 

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