We are in an industry where administrators still rely heavily on faxes and phone calls, delaying decision making, and adding unnecessary spend. Administrative transactions are costly. In fact, the 2019 CAQH Index Report states, “Of the $40.6 billion spent on these transactions, $13.3 billion or 33 percent of existing annual spending on administrative transactions could be saved by completing the transition from manual and partially electronic processing to fully electronic processing.” Organizations need user and system interfaces that are intuitive and adapt well to healthcare environments today.
Despite this broad acknowledgment of opportunity for improvement, the implementation of newer technologies has lagged for healthcare organizations. At NantHealth, we see User Experience, or UX, as a key consideration when seeking to champion this change.
Taking a “user-centered” approach is critical in the establishment of our core UX strategy. We’re dealing with the convergence of technologies that can revolutionize the way we care for patients by improving the quality of care while streamlining processes and procedures that often play out in the background. Users ask for actionable data. Modern technologies provide mountains of data about everything from real-time patient vital statistics to business intelligence information. The capability to gather, store, and manipulate this data is driven by genuinely brilliant (in my opinion) software engineering. While it can be tempting to make all of this data available to our users, it is more effective to curate the data in a way that surfaces only the most essential information in a timely, context-appropriate manner.
With all the advances in information technology, we’re beginning to outpace the cognitive capacity of the human mind. Given the social norm of constant information, the advancements of modern data technology, and the pushback from users, we’re pushing for a simplification of the user experience across everything from behavioral patterns to visual design. We have a responsibility to our users to provide the right data in the right format at the right times to mitigate “information overload” in a world where the flow of information has outpaced our ability to make sense of it.
How does NantHealth address the user experience?
At NantHealth, we seek to place the user at the center of every solution we create. Our users, whether they be physicians, clinicians, or administrators, all require tools that enable them to efficiently and effectively do their job. To better understand our users, we employ several research tactics to learn from our users where our knowledge of responsibilities and workflows may be limited. We regularly reach out to users to test new ideas that address pain points and gaps surfaced in previous research explorations.
This study of the users, their daily behaviors, environments, and interactions with our existing or conceptual solutions provide us with valuable insights that inform and direct our design activities. Consistency in both the research process and UX design process helps us develop meaningful improvements that we can validate in the market. Ultimately this brings value and credibility to our products as they better serve our users, their needs, and the demands of a dynamic healthcare market. Understanding the needs and capabilities of the people who use them is the core of our team’s mission.
Understanding the needs and capabilities of the people who use them is the core of our team’s mission.
What are the guiding principles of software usability?
- Know your users – insights collection through both field research and usability studies
- By understanding our users, we can build the user interface to leverage affordances or common experiences our users all share that can serve to make our applications more intuitive. Using red and green to indicate failure or success is an excellent example of color affordance in a modern application interface. Usability studies help the user experience team fine-tune the information architecture; this type of research can help the visual design team ensure that information is being presented in a way that makes it intuitive and accessible to the widest variety of users.
- Understand the problem – the why
- Critical part of the process – understanding the problem helps the UX team empathize with our users.
- Develop Clear Information Architecture and Visual Design – logical grids, information hierarchy, meaningful visual cues and copy that speaks to the user
- Visual design is a critical piece of the puzzle. Users need access to structured information to make the best use of it. Gestalt psychology drives most of the visual design decisions, allowing the user interface to appear structured and orderly while minimizing visual clutter. The use of motion adds an element of surprise and delight to the interface – keeping users engaged while helping to direct them to the next objective in the information flow.
- Simplicity (Millers Law – 7 points)
- One of the primary principles the UX team follows is that of simplicity. Users must be able to find what they need quickly to be efficient in a workflow. The human mind has limited cognitive capacity both in terms of “working memory” but also in the capability to make critical decisions.
- Miller’s Law is a famous psychology experiment that ultimately found the human brain capable of storing seven unique “bits” or items of information. This number can be 2 bits higher or lower depending on the person. This is why phone numbers are seven digits long. Modern cognitive psychologists are finding that number to be closer to 3 unique bits depending on the information. The new Law of “3 plus or minus 1” drives many design decisions as we try to curate information for users where we can. It’s important to note that while this is ideal, sometimes we must surface large amounts of data.
- While we try to distill the information users are required to retain, we also strive to limit the number of choices users must make. Hick’s Law states that the time a user takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices. It’s always useful to try and provide the fewest number of decision points or to provide guidance or assistance where possible.
- Consistency is critical to providing a solid experience and building a loyal user base. When we’re consistent in our visual design and our tone of voice, it inspires confidence in our users. This is also a critical element of the NantHealth brand identity. The NantHealth brand will grow and thrive when users are exposed to common visual design elements and brand-specific language regularly.
Working within these guiding principles, we are continually collaborating with both internal and external stakeholders and carefully listening, observing, and continuing to understand our users and their day to day tasks focused on delivering the best care. Our ongoing contributions to improving our solutions and the value they provide seek to ease the process behind providing care so that providers can genuinely focus on the most important thing – the needs of the patient.