Bridging the Gap
Created in Procreate.
Task: Improving healthcare through UX
Scope: 2 weeks
Pakistan boasts a population of over 221 million citizens, making it the 5th largest nation in the world, and 4th largest nation in all of Asia. Of these 221 million, the upper and middle class are fortunate enough to afford quality private healthcare, while a majority of lower income families are forced to register for aid at government sponsored hospitals.
What’s more, medical terms in Pakistan are a mixture of British-English and American-English, causing confusion to a country primarily speaking Punjabi, while many speak a combination of the other 75 regional languages. This communication gap adds a significant amount of stress and difficulty for Pakistanis who want to express their medical ailments.
Add to this the fact that clinics in rural locations are understaffed and overbooked, over 70% of Pakistanis must travel into the large metropolitan areas, where equipment and staffing are better able to handle their needs.
Doctory is an organization that wants to do away with the obstacles of finding good healthcare in Pakistan. Founded in 2017 by Maliha Khalid as a medical phone consultation service, they believe that “everyone should have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare” and that receiving treatment, should be a stress free process. They want to “bridge the gap” between citizens seeking healthcare and professionals qualified enough to give it. Instead of citizens going through four sometimes five referrals just to find the right doctor, Doctory wants to shorten that process and “move healthcare to people.”
My colleague, Sally Toms and I sat down with Ms. Khalid to gain a better understanding of her perspective on Doctory, its shortcomings, and what success would look like to her with a redesign of her website.
Medical terms, even if English is a first language, can be difficult for patients to decipher.
Our client, Doctory needs to shift from phone consultation to a more globally accessible website in order to facilitate the process of connecting patients with qualified doctors of the appropriate specialization and avoid barriers to entry with confusing medical terminology.
How might we improve upon usability and effectiveness to better reduce barriers between patients and the qualified professionals best equipped to provide care
We began our research phase evaluating the current Doctory site. We looked at how learnable the site was, how easy it was to discover and understand the main functions of the platform. We then looked at how efficient the overall website was as well as how memorable functions were. We also noted error management. Were users able to return to a previous state, or undo an action if committed by mistake? Finally, we looked at how satisfied potential users left the website feeling.
We then looked at 16 healthcare competitors and noted what worked well for them, as well as what could be improved upon.
Companies like WebMD allowed users to specify where the pain or or medical problem was located, and continued to reduce the possible medical cases at each step as the user provided more information. However, there was little to no explanation as to what particular medical terms were at the initial stages of searching.
We also looked at 5 non-competitors to see how non-health related organizations such as Angieslist and AutoMD to see how they guided users through their platform.
We then shifted gears and began looking at how users felt about the current Doctory site. In an effort to recruit said users for our usability testing, we conducted a screener survey asking participants questions such as “Have you ever had a job in the medical field” and “Have you been to the doctor in the past year?” We wanted to find users that had recent experience booking a doctor, but were not directly employed in some type of medical profession.
Users who passed the screening survey were then invited to take part in our usability testing, where, using Doctory’s existing platform and our prototype we had participants perform search based tasks. These included, having users search for particular doctors, search particular symptoms, and describe what they saw on the page and their overall feeling. We had 9 participants partake in the usability testing 6 male and 3 female.
Users were initially confused with the initial landing page. There was no clear hierarchy to buttons and few participants knew where to go to immediately search for a doctor. They were also confused by the “About Doctory” button. Was it more about the doctors or the website?
The rating system, having three separate tiers, left users frustrated at best. A gold star, a pink star, and a set of bars were used to rate three separate items with no indication of what meant what. Users could not distinguish between the three and didn’t know which one was supposed to be given preference.
The search function itself was difficult to navigate around. Users would type in their symptoms, “painful urination” for example, and would get no results. If, however, they typed “Urologist”, an appropriate healthcare specialist result would appear.
Improve search functionality and how patients are asked to translate their needs into a searchable query.
Better communicate the level of relevance of results in order to prioritize the most important doctors.
Build functionality into a user account for added value and encourage users to make Doctory a regular part of their healthcare.
With research complete, we took our results and began drawing out user flows and wireframes in an effort to reduce potential frustration points and maximize efficiency.
Finally, satisfied with where our research and initial design process had taken us, we created a clickable prototype.
A visual guide was added to assist users who have an ailment but don’t know the exact terminology.
A guided search was included that allows users to type in possible symptoms, and, based on location and severity, recommend the best specialist. If symptoms or level of pain are severe enough, a prompt would appear recommending users travel get to the ER.
When results for specialists appear, up to three possible maladies appear, with an appropriate definition about the case, allowing users to verify that it does, in fact, resemble what they are experiencing before calling, freeing up time for both call centers, and patients seeking treatment.
A user profile was added allowing users to bookmark favorite doctors or perhaps doctors they are interested in contacting later. They are also able to save past searches allowing them to recall a particular ailment.
An availability section permits users to select which days they have available. When searching for doctors, if a doctor is available on days that the user is not, the time will appear in yellow. Otherwise, Doctor availability will appear in green.
If allotted more time, we would have liked to improve the on-boarding interactivity in an effort to better teach the user all the possible functions of the site and increase initial familiarity.
We also would have liked to increase the interactivity of the pain locater with animations in between clicks as the location became more specific. As well as installing a better, more aesthetically appealing feedback system when users clicked a certain body part.