Healthcare IT is moving at a staggering pace.
Healthcare professionals on the ground are demanding better, faster and more useful apps to enable better care for their patients.
With this rapid growth, there has been a technology/customer mismatch, a classic case of favoring more complex technology over UX that is leaving money on the table for healthcare IT organizations.
Healthcare IT needs to maintain value at scale in their apps – particularly at the user level – to remain relevant and useful.
How to improve healthcare app UX: tips for technologists
Improving healthcare app UX isn’t easy. There are huge demands placed on healthcare IT industry by the organizations they are used by, from data storage to better app navigation.
Healthcare professionals on the ground need patient data. And they need it faster, easier to navigate, and free of software errors that could trip up a vital treatment strategy.
Usability is the most important factor healthcare organizations take into account when purchasing a healthcare app. Which means any UX issues have the ability to render the tech unused and useless.
This to-and-fro leaves the technical team who are building the app under-appreciated, while the healthcare professionals feel ignored. However, the people that really suffer are the patients.
So what do healthcare professionals want in an app?
Healthcare professionals simply want more confidence to do their job properly. They must be able to access the correct medical information they need quickly and be able to digest and interpret that information. Which means to succeed, your app has a tremendous pressure to be usable; easy to navigate, fast, and error-free.
“Most providers will not consider apps with low usability that may not be adopted by clinicians.”
Smarthealthcareit.org – 2017
Healthcare app UX is listed as one of the worst in the entire software industry. Here are five of the most common complaints about usability healthcare IT receives from their users, and how to fix them, so you can keep your healthcare customers happy and their patients safe.
1. Frequent/recurring software crashes preventing basic actions
- Social media outbursts from unhappy customers
- Broken pay portals reducing revenue
- Lost costs in developer and support teams when managing damage control
Detecting software errors in production environments might seem difficult but it’s actually very easy to implement. Errors do slip through your QA and testing process, so identify areas in your development workflow where there could be issues. Just like any modern software development team, ensure a proper error resolution process is in place.
Is your software testing process robust enough? In order to be more stable, multiple testing environments are essential.
You may not have visibility into when and where your application is crashing, and rely on customers to communicate the location of the error. For the errors that do make it past your QA team, instead of relying on users reporting the error, a software intelligence platform like Raygun will find these errors automatically, before they cause a bigger issue in your software.
2. Uncertainty around whether data is secure and private
Customers are concerned about data security.
It may be unclear whether your sensitive data storage is secure.
You must ensure that every third party software company is HIPAA compliant so you can guarantee the safety of your customer’s sensitive data. (Here’s Raygun’s security policy as an example.) Software solutions should also be transparent about how long they store your data for. Encourage a security first approach in your development team and provide support in reporting suspicious activity.
If you see an increase of unusual errors in your application for example, you could be exposed to a security risk, like these unfortunate enterprise companies.
Assure your customers that your electronic sensitive information is safe by being HIPAA compliant – it’s the law. If a breach does occur, be swift in your attempts to notify users with how you will remedy the problem.
3. Slow or lagging pages cause frustrated users
- App abandonment and low usage
- Frustrated users
Health IT solutions are purchased to save time and improve efficiency.
The same statistics around software adoption hold true to healthcare also – people abandon applications that take longer than three seconds to load, and are much more vocal around slow pages, particularly for websites:
Measure your median application response time. The Median response time (we find other averages are inaccurate) is what 50% of your customers experience. Track that, and hold the team accountable to achieving a time or better. Use this as a benchmark, and start addressing slow loading pages immediately – and the good news is that it may be a quick fix! Usually it is as simple as fixing large images that aren’t rendering properly for mobile users, and take less than a few days to fix. (See how Raygun reduced load times by 38% in half a day’s development time).
4. Functionality bugs cause bottlenecks for users
New features and product updates aren’t being used, but you aren’t sure which ones or why they have been abandoned
- Bugs prevent the basic functionality of your healthcare app. This leaves some of your best features unused and undervalued
- Changes in functionality cause confusion
Did you make a bad deployment? It might be time to roll back some changes. If you deploy a beta version of a new function, really listen to the customer feedback and make the suggested changes. A great software metric to measure is how many users are affected by bugs. Having 10,000 errors that affect one customer is not as bad as 500 errors affecting 250 customers. Measure the affected customers on a monthly basis, with a goal to reduce over time.
5. The app is unintuitive and hard to navigate
Customers complaining they can’t find the right information.
Vital pages like patient histories are too many clicks away.
One of the best ways to understand how your software is used is encouraging technologists to understand the design thinking on the UX side. On the CX side (the patients) improvements can be made by doing simple UX exercises like IT rounding, empathy interviewing and customer journey mapping (We go through how to create a customer journey map here.)
In an article for Healthcare IT news, Santosh Mohan, a healthcare industry analyst and chair of the HIMSS Innovation Committee says these techniques:
“Impact patients by improving their experience with clinicians. We invest in IT for our clinicians to ultimately improve the patient experience.”
Getting visibility into these issues on the technology side is easier said than done. A real user monitoring tool will identify exactly how your end users are navigating you apps and exactly where they are getting stuck.
With Raygun, an investigative developer will be able to use data from the Dashboards above to pinpoint and fix the navigation flow.
Healthcare app UX is vital…
Usability is the most important factor healthcare organizations take into account when purchasing a healthcare app. So healthcare providers like Athenacare must lead the way in providing better UX for their customers. Discovering and fixing usability issues remain a priority for development teams in the Healthcare IT industry.
Don’t neglect your healthcare app UX. Hire a strong UX team and implement a strong front-end development workflow that will surface errors and performance issues well before they affect your customers.
Above all listen to your customers, then measure your progress.
This is where a software intelligence tool like Raygun shines. Raygun will not only provide the diagnostic details your software team needs to fix errors in production but provide a way for healthcare IT organizations to pinpoint the causes of usability issues affecting end users.