Newwward App — UX/UI Case Study on Enhancing Healthcare Operations

How to utilize design thinking as a mindset to create a solution that can help to enhance inpatient healthcare operations among clinical staff? This case study is an UX/UI research for an inpatient app concept for doctors and nurses. Time to investigate.

Newwward concept design — futuristic hospital environment
Newwward concept design — futuristic hospital environment
Welcome to Newwward

Problem — Overwork and Repetitive Tasks

Healthcare industry needs to embrace technology as a form of supporting workers and thus enabling more focus on patient-facing activities, shifting from volume-based to value-based care. How could this be possible and why are doctors so overworked? A lot of technology is already being embraced by the healthcare industry with excellent results, but doctors and nurses are still overworked and under-staffed. A general assumption could be that there are so many people and so few doctors. However, looking at the scenario from a more information-based perspective — a lot of daily (administrative) tasks take a heavy toll on the workflow, which is what Newwward aims to solve.

Clinical Staff Need a Supporting Tool to Enhance Daily Workflow through Task Automation and Digitized Care Delivery

Goals

  • Enhance clinical staff’s workflow
  • Scalable and sustainable solution
  • Business Goal: Reducing overhead costs and improving clinical staff’s workflow for a better provider patient experience

Solution

pulse
pulse
WWW — It’s a regular heart beat (for now). Idea towards a possible app icon

The Concept

Why call it “Newwward”?

Design Process

design thinking process
design thinking process
Design Thinking Process

The design process follows design thinking methodologies as a design mindset in coming up with a solution. However, it should be noted that this process does not include observations, behaviour or expert interviews with the user groups (doctors and nurses), which would be vital for insights and validation, and are the most important parts of the process. This concept relies on desktop research and assumptions. Hearing this, do bear with me and not to dismiss the idea immediately — perhaps it could developed into something more and this concept could be regarded as idea experimentation, and possibly the first steps towards a larger idea, if it would see the green light — the first iteration.

Define & Situation

Healthcare is one of the largest sectors in the world that can be further divided into diverse industries and sub-categories. Technical developments and innovative solutions for healthcare can provide new business and care delivery models, such as Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Digitized solutions can enhance the level of healthcare; where timing, details and information can have life-changing effects. However, embracing technology and connecting to the Internet also brings new threats and challenges; information and data security being the top factors. Healthcare industry needs to integrate technical innovation to their workflow, but also adapt to the changing user needs, demands and expectations.

Clinical staff working on reduced time, rushing between patients, overworking with less time for rest and shortage of staff can potentially lead to life-threatening consequences, as well as result in dissatisfied and confusing patient and staff experience. Clinical staff need a digital tool that can help to improve day-to-day workflow.

research
research

Research & Discovery

  • Patient using a hospital app was found to improve the experience due to convenience. A patient didn’t want to bother a nurse to adjust lights, but was able to do so on an app, which made the patient happy and saved the nurse time for doing such a task.
  • Majority of solutions work cross-platform. Cross-platform approach provides more flexibility and enables users having their own devices. Many entities have adopted BYOD (bring-your-own-device) as long as they meet security guidelines. User are also more familiar with their choice of device, which could help to enhance workflow, and reduce time spent on learning new devices, cost factor of acquiring new devices is high.
  • Availability of both tablet and smartphone options (and desktop). Having the option to choose between using a tablet or a cellphone (or a desktop) is ideal. Doctors prefer tablets when consulting patients, whereas nurses prefer smartphones according to research done at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Doctors prefer larger screens due to having the chance to consult patients with images and graphs (i.e. explaining images and developments), whereas nurses responsibilities tend to be more towards the hospital environment and common patient/administrative tasks where a mobile app is more ideal.
  • Shortage of highly skilled staff and work-overload is common in care facilities across the globe. According to a research by the American Medical Association 70% of patients prefer direct communication with their physician. Provider burnout can furthermore affect patient care. The face-to-face consultation between doctors and patients is important. Doctors should have more time and less disruptions when consulting patients, a notifications feature might interrupt this consultation.
  • From ‘A Mobile, Collaborative, Real time Task List for Inpatient Environments’: “Paper is also a convenient method for most clinicians; the time needed to connect to a network and log in simply to add a task or check off a task as completed is by its nature longer than putting pen to paper. Entering tasks on an electronic device for this inpatient medical team was less efficient for clinicians than their current system of using paper and in person communication. Thus, although the team used Tasklist during the pilot, it did not reduce time spent on creating tasks.” Tablet note taking with a stylus or voice control could help to solve note-taking issues. Solution need to integrate to the workflow and not work against it. Adding and checking off tasks should be easy and straightforward. Commonly occurring questions could be automated.
  • Administrative tasks and report creation appears to be the most time consuming tasks at hospitals and several existing apps are using automation and survey-type solutions to reduce time spent on completing these tasks. AI-powered nurse avatars are also being adopted to help with patient data collection. The research findings suggest that future workforce shortages could be tackled more cost-effectively if the efficiency and productivity of clinical activities were addressed through innovative approaches to workforce planning, recruitment, skills development, and technology used. Solving problems in tasks, scheduling, logistics, activities management and automation are a vital part in helping to enhance work-flow. Tracking metrics and getting real-time data on devices can save time.
  • From 2019 Global Healthcare Outlook: “An example of AI-assisted workflow management is DeloitteASSIST, a patient communication solution that combines the capabilities of speech recognition, natural language processing, and AI to enable patients to request assistance without the need to press a button. Simply by speaking their request, nurses are alerted to their need, with AI prioritizing and smart-routing requests to the right resource (orderlies, patient support assistants, volunteers) to meet the patient’s needs.”
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Existing Apps — What is out there?

  • GetWell Round+
  • Paragon Clinician
  • PerfectWard
  • FLOW (which is a module part of V-Sign)

App screens or comparison tables won’t be displayed here, but a I’ll describe a brief summary of findings.

Existings apps work cross-platform, which makes the philosophy of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) possible. Task management and reporting are included in all apps, though the areas of reporting have minor differences. All apps provide a certain level of communication between staff. Survey-style reports are a good way to speed the process.

Empathize & Analysis

User Personas

User Persona — Doctors
User Persona — Doctors
User Persona: Doctors
Empathy Map — Doctors
Empathy Map — Doctors
Empathy Map — Doctors

User Group: Nurses

User Persona — Nurses
User Persona — Nurses
User Persona: Nurses
Empathy Map — Nurses
Empathy Map — Nurses
Empathy Map — Nurses

Job Stories

I want to know that nurses are following my instructions so I can focus on other issues at hand

I want to have a full grasp of how my patients are doing so I can be ready for possible changes

I want to be notified when one of my patient’s condition changes so I can treat them as fast as possible

I want to have access to patient’s medical notes and history as fast as possible so I can assess and advice patients as efficiently as possible

I want to alert nurses to help me so I can quickly treat a patient that is in critical condition

Nurses:

I want to complete admin work without needing to write down same things all over again so I can have more time for other tasks

I want to know and be reminded what needs to be done everyday so I can work work more efficiently

I want to know what are the vital statuses of the patients so I can be ready for possible changes in their condition

Considerations for ideation:
Task List, Scheduling, Status, Views, Reporting, Accessibility, Collecting, Alerting, Automation / Learning based on patterns.

(Re)define

Challenges:

  • Creating a solution that easily integrates into the existing workflow and culture (using it in full capacity)
  • Security and privacy
  • Avoiding information overload
  • Easy, clear, fast and intuitive user experience for a vast range of information
  • Priotizing tasks, alerts and notifications without interrupting, while being informative
  • Responding to alert notifications (who, what, where, why, when, how)
  • What tasks can be automated and what needs to be customized or left open to customization

Ideation

Ideation for design
Ideation for design
Ideation, Sketches, Planning

Structure

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2 Main Priorities: Patients and Tasks

The structure describes two main areas: Patients and Tasks, but I’ve left Wards as a reminder for internal linking as without a ward there are no tasks or patients. Ward is needed in the app, but it is not a priority over patients and tasks.

User Flow

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User Flow

UI Ideation

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Exploring design directions (from left to right)

Context Matters

There is no need to think about conversion rates, cool trends, exquisite animations, or branding. In an hospital environment, the mindset should be about using it as tool, not as an app for an app’s sake with a large color palette and cute icons. These considerations made me to wonder towards using a more Material Design style approach.

Material Design approach was more clear and went towards the initial goal, and even the colors resembled a hospital environment. However, is this coloring really important? Is it really needed? For a hospital context, the information should be as clear as possible. Thus the last approach aims to be as simple as possible and using colors only where it has a specific purpose, such as red for danger. Branding and beauty aside, the goal is clarity, speed and ease of use. More decluttering was implemented to avoid information overload. I.e. if a patient’s condition is stable, it is fine to not specifically indicate this in the home screen. Through these iterations and reflections the simple light theme was chosen for creating an initial prototype.

Prototype

User Flow
User Flow
Menu + Patient View User Flow
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Critical Change Detected View + Task View User Flows

Final Thoughts

Thank you for tuning in!

Written by

a Finnish Visual + Product Designer (UI/UX Designer)

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