Emergency Room nurses have a difficult time assessing and preparing for incoming patients. For patients, the ER is a dreaded experience that is filled with lots of waiting, forms, and questions during a stressful time.
FastER Care is a system designed to alert triage nurses of incoming patients ahead of time by allowing patients to pre-register before heading to the ER.
1) Validate the problem and test a solution
2) Improving certain metrics for the hospital systems (patient satisfaction, throughput, patient outcomes, and wait time)
3) Reducing the wait time and number of forms for patients as well as improving their overall experience at the ER
I was the sole product designer that worked closely with development and marketing for the entire product life cycle.
We started out with an intensive planning process in order to clearly understand the value we were bringing to our customers (the hospital systems) and users (triage nurses & patients) as well as understanding our business goals.
We hypothesized that our target audience on the patient side would be people with chronic illnesses due to their frequency in visiting the ER. On the hospital side, our main user would be the ER triage nurses, but we also had to keep in mind the actual paying customer – hospital executives.
Next, I performed the research to validate that hypothesis and better understand our target user base.
- Ethnographic Interviews (both in person and over the phone)
- Field Study
- Online Research (Social media conversations, forums, app reviews, blog posts)
- Competitive Analysis
One of the biggest things I learned while performing this research was that we couldn’t disrupt hospital staff’s current workflow. This insight led us to drop our original idea of creating a separate web platform for the triage nurses. We knew we had to find a solution for the triage nurses that was as frictionless as possible. After quite a bit of team brainstorming, we came up with a solution that then allowed us to integrate directly into the EHR, and therefore, tie our solution to tools that the hospital staff was already familiar with. I learned that sometimes the best interface to build is no interface at all.
Based on the user interviews and online research, I created a persona of a user with a chronic illness that we could keep in mind as we designed and developed this application.
Next, I looked at how the user would flow through our application and even considered multiple touchpoints beyond the digital interface. The user flow also helped established the information architecture for the application.
I used pen and paper as a form of divergent thinking in order to quickly generate multiple ideas for the interface.
Rethinking Initial Designs
Originally, the FastER Care app design was much more extensive, giving the user the ability to add their full medical history, current medications, and more. Because of the burden placed on the user to add all of this information on a mobile device – especially since our target user would be older – we decided to cut down on the amount of inputted information. This would create a more frictionless experience and there would be less worry about us holding onto sensitive, private information.
However, at the same time, we didn’t want to compromise on the ability to give the triage nurse access to a patient’s medical information so that he or she could make better decisions about care. Utilizing a few essential pieces of information that we would gather, we created a solution that did most of the heavy lifting for the user on the backend. We accessed any past records the patient might have at that hospital system and sent it over with their registration. This gave the triage nurses the necessary information they would need to evaluate incoming patients.
Sign Up Flow
Since the value obtained by the user would only occur if he or she entered a few pieces of information ahead of time, I wanted to make the sign up flow as fast, as easy, and as straight forward as possible to complete. Here were some ways in which I did that:
- Articulated the benefits of adding this information so the user would realize why it was important for them to take the time to do so
- Communicated that their information would be kept secure
- Gave a sense of feedback by using a progress bar that let them know where they were in the process and how much further they had to go
- Matched the best inputs to each appropriate field (such as using a date picker for selecting your DOB or a number pad when entering your Zipcode)
- Let the user skip adding their Social Security Number if they felt uncomfortable giving up that information
- Broke up the input fields into four different screens in order to avoid the huge cognitive load the user would experience if they had to fill out one long scrolling form
- Automatically displayed the keyboard to reduce the number of clicks needed per screen
Prototype & User Testing
Initially, I created an InVision prototype and later on, with the help of our developer, a seemingly working prototype in Xcode. We used those prototypes to test the application with our target users and see how it was received. We tested both informally through guerilla research and also sent the InVision prototype through User Testing to gain feedback.
While I knew that sending the prototype through User Testing would not be ideal since it would not let us target people with chronic illnesses, it did let us discover the main usability issues. One of the big insights was that the value of FastER Care didn’t really click with people until they completed an actual registration flow. This gave way to the need for a test run so that the users could try out the registration flow before they might actually need it in an emergency situation.
That’s it for now! Thanks for sticking around to read about this project. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss it in more depth.