An Android app that facilitates communication for non-native-born patients seeking healthcare services through audio recordings and transcripts, ensuring confidence that all their medical needs are met.
During my UX Design Bootcamp at BrainStation, I was tasked with conducting research to design a digital solution for a government-led initiative aimed at improving healthcare for patients. The initiative aims to place people and patients at the center of healthcare by more deeply understanding patient needs and experiences, while improving patient outcomes.
My process for this design challenge was to leverage a non-linear design-thinking methodology. Through this human-centred approach, the goal was to design a desirable solution that addressed users’ real human needs through feedback and iteration.
Through my research to get a deeper learning of the real-life experiences that minority groups face within the Canadian healthcare system, I found that patients that are not originally from Canada do not receive the same quality of healthcare services as Canadian-born citizens.
A barrier to health care is anything that restricts the use of health services by making it more difficult for some individuals to access, use or benefit from care. Newcomers to Canada experience a range of barriers to quality health care, such as:
● Complex health insurance eligibility and entitlement rules
● Limited pre-arrival healthcare
● Limited language and literacy skills
● Lack of familiarity with the Canadian healthcare system
● Precarious finances
● Factors related to gender and culture
New immigrants are more likely to report difficulties accessing immediate care than were Canadian-born respondents.
Health literacy abilities for seniors, immigrants and the unemployed, are on average much lower.
Of all Canadian physicians, only 26% are internationally trained medical graduates.
My research objective was to understand the realities that minority groups must face within the healthcare system. I believe that no valuable solution can be found without first understanding why a solution is needed in the first place.
In addition to my secondary research, my primary research will serve as a guiding light to bring me closer to finding a solution for those who have chosen to immigrate to Canada and to give them equal access to the healthcare system.
I believe that a large portion of patients that are not originally from Canada do not receive the same quality of healthcare services as Canadian-born citizens. I believe that the healthcare system does not have enough resources in place to accommodate a portion of the population that does not fluently speak the official languages of Canada.
I will be able to confirm this through my primary research by conducting interviews with current residents born outside of Canada.
Healthcare providers don’t always accommodate patients that don’t speak their native language.
All patients want to feel like their medical problems or needs are being addressed
Regardless of status, every patient wants what's best when it comes to their health and wants equal access to healthcare.
Access to a healthcare provider can be difficult and confusing.
To better understand the problem space and the affected individuals, I conducted one-on-one decontextualized interviews with 3 target users. Using an Affinity Map, I organized the insights gained from my interviews into motivations, behaviours, and pain points. This process allowed me to identify 4 main themes and insights.
Unaddressed issues and questions
Patients will often neglect the more minor issues, withhold questions, or leave a consultation without feeling like their issues were fully addressed.
Lack of mutual understanding
Due to language barriers, both patients and healthcare providers often have issues verbalizing and comprehending each other.
Other resources to communicate
Often patients must rely on other tools or people in order to communicate their issues with their healthcare providers, such as translation tools or even bringing another person that will serve as a translator.
Healthcare Providers & Staff Attitude
Sometimes, patients will feel a negative attitude from staff and healthcare providers when there is a language barrier.
KEY INSIGHT: Lack of mutual understanding
I decided to focus on the lack of mutual understanding due to language barriers between patient and physician as it appeared to be the catalyst for the other three themes to emerge.
How might we facilitate communication for non-native-born patients when seeking healthcare services so they can be confident that all their medical needs are being met?
With a persona defined, I moved into the “ideation” phase of problem-solving, and began to explore user stories and epics to help legitimize why a feature or functionality should exist. I authored 20+ User Stories and organized them into 4 epics to see how people like Tian Fu, our persona, might use digital solutions to help them solve the problems they face within the healthcare system.
Using pen and paper, I began my preliminary sketching based on my task flow and a UI inspiration board I created, which includes the features and functionalities of Recording a Medical Consultation. I also pulled inspiration from apps with shared functions like Otter as well as voice recording apps.
After various iterations, I refined the best ideas into solution sketches. Since the purpose of this app is to ease communication, I knew visual communication had to be easily understandable. Components have to be familiar and obvious right away without being overwhelming for the user, which is why I pulled various elements from Google’s material design into my solution sketches.
I was now in a good place to start translating my sketches into mid-fidelity wireframes. Working with greyscale wireframes was a great way to see my digital solution come to life from a functional standpoint, it also allowed me to quickly test and iterate functionality.
With the initial prototype built, I was ready to conduct a round of user testing with 5 participants. In addition to receiving practical feedback, I was able to observe in real time the way users interacted with the prototype and pinpoint areas that may not be as intuitive to the user.
After testing, the feedback and insights from the testers were prioritized using a Design Prioritization Matrix. This allowed me to assess the effort it would take to fix and the value it would bring to the user.
By referring to the Prioritization Matrix and evaluating the time constraints I was working with, I tackled the suggested improvements I knew would be the most impactful by weighing the value brought to the user and the effort required to implement them.
This screen is mostly clear in what it does; all users were able to see access to past audio recordings. 2/5 users expected the + icon to jump straight into recordings, after finding out it didn't, they stated that the recording option should also be quickly accessible.
1. Planning new consult is now more obvious that it is for scheduling ahead of time with its new icon and simple text.
2. Instant record button on the initial page allows the user to bypass planning steps and get right into recording.
All users immediately clicked on the placeholder box where audio recording would go after the consultation is recorded. All users thought the PLAY button was interactive; they eventually clicked on the main record button. Simple action to do, but noticed some misunderstanding of screen contents.
1. Removed icons so users don't think it is interactive
2. Placeholder sections are now made to look less like buttons and more like empty placeholder boxes.
3. Text within placeholder boxes now sounds less like instructions and is more informational.
All users were able to stop the recording with ease. 2/5 users were unsure what would happen if they went to the previous page while the app was still recording. 2/5 users stated there should be a more obvious way to complete the recording and automatically close the recording page once pressing stop.
1. Adding a pause recording button that will temporarily stop live recording.
2. Stop button is more conclusive and will automatically bring you to the consultation page to view the new recording. Users are no longer obligated to leave the screen through Back Arrow Button.
Second Round of Testing: With the most pressing issues fixed, an additional round of user testing will not only test the revisions, but also highlight potential issues that were not noticed due to the more glaring ones.
Beyond Verbal Feedback: During the testing phase, I realized how much insight on usability you gain from non-verbal cues. Verbal feedback is essential, but being able to pick up on testers’ subtle behaviors can ensure serious issues don't go unnoticed.
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