Applying UX Design Principles to the Patient Experience

Applying UX Design Principles to the Patient Experience

Stephanie Czuhajewski, MPH, CAE, Executive Director

User Experience (UX) design has revolutionized how we interact with technology. When done well, UX design creates experiences that are seamless, intuitive, and enjoyable. I recently had the opportunity to attend a UX design conference that demonstrated the use of UX design principles to enhance service delivery and offered examples of successful applications in health care. The courses emphasized themes that I was introduced to during the AuDacity 2020 virtual conference, which featured keynote speaker, Dr. Bon Ku and concepts from the book he co-authored, “Health Design Thinking: Creating Products and Services for Better Health,” and brought forward new ideas for applications.

Design thinking follows a structured, iterative process that involves empathizing with users, defining problem areas, ideating potential solutions, prototyping, and testing. It encourages diverse perspectives and broad collaboration among different stakeholders to address (typically) system-wide issues. UX design (often viewed as a subcategory of design thinking), concentrates on creating intuitive and user-friendly experiences for individuals interacting with a specific product or service. While commonly associated with websites and apps, the principles of UX design can also be applied to healthcare settings and services. As I recently learned, by leveraging UX design principles, healthcare professionals can improve patient satisfaction, streamline workflows, and ultimately enhance the quality of care.

Empathetic Design for Improved Patient Experience: At the heart of UX design lies empathy grounded in a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of users. By carefully considering the patient journey and optimizing each touchpoint, audiologists can design experiences that prioritize patient comfort, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall satisfaction. Experience features don’t have to be grand or complicated to be successful. Clear signage, comfortable waiting areas, and user-friendly patient portals can have a profound impact on the patient experience.

Streamlining Workflows for Increased Efficiency: UX design techniques, such as process mapping and task analysis, can identify bottlenecks in clinical workflows. By streamlining processes, eliminating unnecessary redundancy, and leveraging technology, clinicians and front office staff can save time, improve productivity, and allocate more attention to patient care.

Enhancing Communication and Collaboration: UX design principles can facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among clinical and operational teams. User-centered design methods, such as creating user personas and conducting usability testing, can help identify communication pain points and design solutions that meet the needs of various internal stakeholders.

Prototyping, Testing, and Continuous Improvement through User Feedback: User feedback is a fundamental component of UX design, allowing for iterative improvements based on user experiences and needs. Patient and employee satisfaction surveys, usability testing sessions, polls, and other feedback mechanisms can provide valuable data to identify areas to improve, and where care delivery is already optimized.

One case study presented at the UX conference featured a health clinic that invited patients to provide input on the design of patient education materials. Patients were asked to evaluate different designs and provide input using a short survey on a tablet, while they were waiting for their appointment. The feedback helped ensure that the final design was visually engaging, and easy to understand, promoting improved adherence to treatment plans.

After attending the UX conference, I am more convinced than ever that the principles of design thinking and UX design have a place in the delivery of audiology services. UX design, when effectively implemented, can empower patients to actively participate in their audiovestibular health care journey and improve the quality of care they receive.

I am seeking out UX designers willing to share their knowledge to develop educational resources that will be most useful for ADA members. In the spirit of UX design—you may be asked to provide your input on who, where, what, when, and how those resources are developed. Stay tuned! ■