Design for personalized therapies: reframing “delight” as the goal
by Tyler Wilson | October 10, 2019
Sometimes, in the world of UX and product design, “delight” means getting out of the way.
Read about general approaches to UX and digital product design, and you see terms like user delight and sparking delight with increasing frequency. Search for “delight” on Medium.com and you’ll find multiple articles talking about optimal user experience couched explicitly in terms of “delight.”
Making emotional connections and providing micro-experiences of unexpected levity or cleverness, they say, is what makes applications rewarding for users. This goal of connectivity leads to identification and repeat users for your applications.
But what if “delight” isn’t always quite right? Here at Vineti, Healthcare Providers (HCPs) are one of our most important sets of users, and we’re here to help them navigate the emerging world of cell therapy and gene therapy with as much simplicity and clarity as possible. Patient safety depends on it, and we’re full of gratitude to have received great reviews on our UX approach from hospitals and clinics. So let’s re-contextualize the design goal of “delight” through the lens of our HCP users and advanced therapies.
The healthcare UX problem
Healthcare is a demanding and fast-paced industry with a very human goal – provide excellent patient care. In personalized cell and gene therapies, where time and safety are especially critical, the stakes are even higher.
Those who work in this field go through decades of highly-specialized education and training to make sure that they can quickly and accurately help their patients. Whether working face-to-face with patients or in a lab setting, healthcare professionals, face different problems and require different UX and/or product solutions than other users.
These unique needs are magnified in cell and gene therapies. Often, a person -- the patient or a donor -- is the source of “raw material” for the treatment. This creates unique safety requirements, as everyone must be certain the right treatment reaches the intended patient. There is no room for error. Most advanced therapy patients are very ill, and need especially focused care.
Here are points the Vineti Design Team focuses on when thinking about “delight” for healthcare users:
- What drives HCP users to return to an application?
- Does the HCP context (i.e hospitals and labs) currently prioritize a lot of “delightful” interactions?
- Does the hardware and software available in most healthcare institutions allow for these delightful interactions to happen seamlessly?
- Will trying to create a delightful personality/brand within your application detract from HCPs ability to accomplish their goals?
With these points in mind, I think that delight within healthcare UX is a somewhat different beast than in other businesses. HCP users have overall different goals and use cases for their software. For these particularly busy and multi-tasking users, with significant responsibilities for every patient, a “delightful” software experience is one that is quick, efficient, and requires minimal additional cognitive energy. Here’s some guidance on how to deliver that form of HCP delight.
Your product should be especially easy to use when engaged by HCPs. Not only do you want them to be able to focus primarily on their patient, but you want them spending as little time in your application as possible so that they can return to their patient quickly. What does this mean in terms of UI?
- Use clear iconography: avoid ambiguous symbols, and when you do use icons, pair them with text where space allows to make their action as clear as possible.
- Use consistent, clear colors: avoid UI trends like gradients and illustrative design, and instead focus on simple and consistent information and CTA hierarchy.
- Avoid overly complicated or time-consuming transitions: HCPs’ goal is to record the results of their work as quickly and accurately as possible, not exclaim over how artful your micro-animations are.
After a patient’s cells are collected for cell therapy manufacturing, the right UI makes the process of selecting the correct bag for shipment clear and unambiguous.
Simplicity and consistency are other aspects of making users’ experience better. HCPs should always know where on the page to enter and find the data they need, as well as where they are in their process. What does this mean in terms of UI?
- Clear information hierarchy: this will help your users maintain their workflow even if they need to switch contexts.
- Data accessibility: HCP users need to be able to see relevant patient and order data at all times, both for their own ease-of-use as well as for auditing purposes.
- Make use of whitespace: crowding does not help users to focus their attention on a mission-critical task.
- Avoid distraction : in this case, the job of your software is to get out of the way. Give your users a clear headspace to focus on their work, and not your (probably very nice) illustrative design or brand identity.
Easy-to-parse data hierarchy, in which sections, fields, and values are easy to see at a glance.
The disparate parts of the cell and gene therapy ecosystem (hospital administration, pharmaceutical administration, manufacturing labs, shipment companies, etc.) are already a complicated web of paperwork, roles, and software integrations. Being diligent about data visibility and striving for functional minimalism will enable HCPs returning to your application to do their job quickly, and the time spent within your application will be as frictionless as possible. That means more time with their patient, and more personalized therapies delivered to patient in need.
Hopefully, this piece has helped generate empathy for the needs of dedicated healthcare professionals working in advanced therapies. They need well designed solutions like everyone else -- just know that standard approaches to “delight” aren’t always the right answer.
Tyler Wilson has been designing user-centric, goal oriented products and experiences for more than seven years. Before joining Vineti, he also worked as a forensic archaeologist, and has helped define best practices for augmented and virtual reality experiences for companies large and small. To see more of Vineti's industry-leading design approaches for cell and gene therapies, please contact us.