A regional hospital system wanted to explore using technology to address an outdated communications practice that was proving unsatisfactory to hospital staff and patients alike. As standard in hospital rooms, there would be a whiteboard upon which nursing staff would use a marker to write important details to keep patients informed—such as their nurse or doctor’s name or other medical details related to an upcoming or completed procedure.
The practice was time-consuming for medical staff. Additionally, things are always changing in a medical facility, so the risk of displaying inaccurate information was high. The whiteboards weren’t serving the purpose of providing up-to-date, relevant and helpful information for patients.
The team wanted to see if there was a way to automate this process: pulling vital patient data from their electronic medical records system to display on television screens mounted in hospital rooms, thus freeing up their nursing staff to provide patients with the best in care.
The team created a proof of concept of how information would display on the screens and then conducted a moderated, on-premises study using Live Conversation. The UX Researcher on the project explains,
We went to the hospital with our entire nursing team, including representation from emergency care, labor and delivery, internists, rehabilitation, respiratory therapy—everyone who could help us ensure that our final product matched needs across all hospital departments.
The team took all the feedback from the daylong session, organized the ideas into themes and then came up with final concepts and designs that they then submitted for final review. Collecting insights helped them build customer empathy and provided the evidence they needed to quickly make decisions and get stakeholder buy-in.
1. Justify the inclusion of design elements
The final designs included the hospital’s logo, and the leadership team questioned its placement, thinking that a branding element was taking up precious “digital real estate.”
In fact, the presence of the logo had a specific purpose beyond branding. “We heard from a lot of patients that it might be good to see the hospital logo if you woke up from surgery. It grounded you, giving you information on where you were in a moment when you might be disoriented and be most in need of it. We knew this based on our research and had it in our back pocket—to support our rationale for our designs if questioned.”
2. Build customer empathy
Having customer feedback, in some ways, helped to bridge the digital divide between those designing solutions and the end customers. “A majority of the people on my team are under the age of 35. So their screen experiences include things like Roku, Apple TV, and XBox. We wanted the team to think beyond the typical set-top box experience and to give them context: ‘you’re in a hospital, you’re in a bed, you have a remote control beside you.’”
The videos helped younger, tech-savvy individuals, many of whom have probably never had an extended stay in a hospital, better understand the needs of an older audience.
3. Drive consensus in a large, cross-functional project
The eight-month pilot was a huge undertaking, involving product owners, business owner, architects, and UX designers—not to mention all the customers and other stakeholders.
Jokes the UX Researcher, “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘A camel is a horse designed by committee.’ We were very concerned that we were going to ‘build a camel’ if we took into account all the ideas and opinions of everyone involved in this project. What was great about UserTesting was that it kept it from being based on personal bias or personal opinion and it took it back to the patient perspective.”
Following rollout, the pilot program has garnered a positive reaction and has generated interest from other hospitals: