Telehealth is the umbrella term for digitizing the interaction between patients and the healthcare system. The demand for telehealth services is at an all-time high due to COVID19. So let us look at some principles of what constitutes a user-centric design for telehealth platforms.
On a regular day before the pandemic, booking an appointment to visit a doctor or just walking into a hospital or a clinic would not have been a big deal. There is much to be said about the same matter in 2021. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, telehealth technology has been pushed to move into the mainstream. While the lockdowns and social distancing regulations helped accelerate the shift to telehealth, it is clear that this technology will remain relevant even in the post-pandemic world, for its convenience and safety.
To unlock the full potential of telehealth services, it is evident that there needs to be a focus on patient-centred care. Even with the advent of telehealth and healthcare agencies and providers turning to the digital, there is a lack in patient adoption. There are broadly three reasons associated with this lack in the adoption of telehealth services:
Keeping in mind the points above, in asking people to use telehealth services, we’re asking them to transition from a familiar system to one that they may perceive as unchartered territory. Given the environment of health services today, services and agencies that provide healthcare don’t only want patients to look at telehealth as a temporary solution but rather introduce them to the new ecosystem of the future of healthcare and change their mind about its authenticity and usefulness.
The good news is that each of the problems mentioned above can be addressed by using good telehealth design principles.
No design is complete and effective until it is backed by the proper user research. User research is even more crucial in the case of telehealth technology. Research reveals true pain points — a patient with arthritis who struggles to hold the device for a long needs shorter consultations, a patient with motor skill issues who needs voice command features, or someone with impaired hearing who requires captioning for telecalls.
Research is the only way you can get data to create a wholesome and inclusive app. User research methods such as user interviews and observational studies get an authentic account of patient behavior. User research goes a long way with feedback at every stage, which ensures that the released product satisfies all usability parameters.
There is a need to take a holistic approach to the design process. Telehealth services should not only solve the user’s immediate problems but also changed their outlook towards accessible healthcare.
The building blocks start from transparency and being clear about what information is collected, who will see it, why it is needed, how it is shared, how it will be used, how it will be stored, and how secure it will be kept.
All of the information above should be made visible to the audience as and when new information is being asked for. Only the required amount of information should be taken from the patients because making them enter unnecessary information, adding too many steps to the signup/login process, or targeting something that doesn’t apply to their needs will add frustration. It’s best to address each stage separately.
Patients can also grow very wary of the platform if asked to furnish unnecessary information, causing them to abandon the task or shift their focus on a competitor’s product.
According to Jakob’s Law, users prefer if your product works the same way as all the others they already know. Which is a reason that many websites and apps put search boxes, menus, and other features in approximately the same place because that’s where users expect to find them.
By leveraging existing mental models, you can create superior user experiences in which the users can focus on their tasks rather than on learning new models. Getting creative with the placement of various features might be tempting, but it will complicate the patient’s experience. Keeping familiarity throughout a new interface will make users learn a new telehealth device faster.
Simplicity should be used as a guiding principle to make user satisfaction a key milestone for customers using the app. This entails getting rid of any hurdles visually or in terms of content. The use of simple, straightforward language to remove any friction and insecurity in the users along with unambiguous visualization to speed up the decision-making process will ultimately result in an uninterrupted user journey for the customer.
A clean user interface and uncluttered screens with only the required information should be presented to the users. Iconography that supports the content in a clear, legible way, and can reduce hesitation in the users should be used.
When it comes to UI design for telehealth platforms, colors like blue (which is a staple color in the medical field) can be used as it symbolizes calmness and trust. Another good color to use is green on the other hand is synonymous with nature, health, and renewal.
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Read our project brief about designing an Insurance Integrated Health App here.