Building strong patient-provider relationships plays a crucial role in enhancing patient satisfaction throughout their healthcare journey. To address this, we designed an end-to-end primary care service experience that fosters connections between patients and providers. By employing service design methods, we took a holistic approach to tackle this issue, considering all the actors involved in the healthcare ecosystem.
This is my Master’s capstone project in the Human-Centered Design and Engineering program at the University of Washington, sponsored by Microsoft.
Michelle Le, Jalia Evans, Kaitlyn Zhang
Jan 2023 - May 2023 (5 months)
Figma, Premiere Pro
Patients and providers both value collaboration, but the current healthcare system’s constraints toward optimization make personalized, quality care hard to achieve. When the collaboration fails, patients feel dismissed and not in control of their own health.
The study also shows that the patient's lack of trust and low emotional satisfaction could cause non-adherence to treatment plans, delay seeking care, and negatively affect a patient’s health outcome.
“The emotional connection can be just as important as the medical side.”
- Patient Participant
To ensure patients feel supported throughout, we designed an innovative end-to-end primary care experience that extends across the entire healthcare journey. Each service component is designed as a complimentary to add value to the existing services. We also designed an AI-powered patient portal to enhance efficiency and optimize collaboration in the current healthcare system.
Accelerated trust & empathy building
Quality care in a short appointment
Support at all stages of care
Knowing a patient is not just about their medical history. With Survey on Patient Needs, patients can share more about themselves at a personal level, including their care strategy, communication styles, and special accommodations that their providers need to be aware of.
As a part of patient onboarding, we provide educational videos to help patients learn about the general medical process and the providers. It helps them set realistic expectations about the healthcare process and how to best communicate with their providers and admins. It also aims to humanize providers and encourage patients’ empathy for them by enabling them to learn about the constraints that healthcare workers deal with.
As appointment assistance, the conversation guide helps patients scope their needs and bring up concerns prior to their appointment. This gives them room to direct their care and make the most out of the short appointment time.
Providers will receive awareness alerts generated from the patient survey before entering the appointment. AI will assist in identifying patient needs and their impact on the care strategy, providing skimmable alerts and tailored tips for approaching each patient based on their background and needs. As most American providers' continuing medical education lacks soft skills like cultural sensitivity or empathy, this initiative aims to equip them with friendly reminders.
To tackle the issue of patients feeling isolated and unsupported between appointments, we have introduced Care Check-in, a service that provides emotional and logistical support. Collaborative Feedback is a key feature, offering a visual timeline and summary to monitor patients' emotional well-being and satisfaction with their primary-care relationship and treatment plan. Patients can easily communicate updates on their treatment to their providers and request any necessary changes. By addressing these gaps, we aim to reduce the risk of medical errors and patient harm during these critical periods.
To make this idea a reality, our sponsor, Microsoft, tasked us with the responsibility of researching and designing a new experience that gives patients and health care providers a better overall, holistic view of a person's well-being.
30+ Literature Review
7 Patient Interviews
7 SME Interviews
The primary goal of this research was to understand the healthcare landscape from the perspective of all the actors involved in the ecosystem (patients, providers, admin, etc.) and identify what aspects of patients' well-being are disregarded in the current healthcare system.
In order to effectively tackle the complexities of the healthcare sector within our limited timeline, our team conducted thorough scoping to define the specific focus. We targeted patients with chronic illness because they have a significant impact on healthcare and are the best fit for this study since they often need a comprehensive approach due to the complexity of their conditions.
We found that the relationships with healthcare providers had a significant influence on our patient participants' emotional satisfaction, both positively and negatively. Key to a successful relationship was collaboration and trust. Study shows that patients who have more trust in their providers are more likely to follow the care plan suggested by their providers, and lack of trust and low emotional satisfaction could also negatively affect a patient’s health outcome.
Types of well-being
As we analyzed the research results, we developed an ecosystem map and patient journey map to understand the patient's holistic experience and the relationship between actors. They helped us visualize the data and identify the main problem of poor collaboration between patients and providers. We found areas for improvement before and after appointments.
Poor experience in the collaborative decision-making space between patients and providers is a result of patients not being able to communicate their concerns effectively.
The first treatment plan might not always work for patients with complex or severe health conditions, and their journey to recovery could take a long time. That's why patients want to have a healthcare provider who continuously follows up, monitors their progress, and is willing to explore other treatment options as a partner.
Through extensive research on effective collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, we pinpointed four areas with the potential to enhance the current healthcare experience.
During our ideation phase, we invited 3 patients and 3 healthcare providers to our co-design session. We had our participants individually brainstorm what they wanted from their ideal patient-provider relationship, grouped them into themes, then prioritized their top 3 themes. Then, we paired patients and providers together to see what solutions they can create based on the common themes. Below are the 3 themes and their favorite ideas for each theme.
Training for providers in empathy, understanding the experience of people with chronic illness
A 3 way communication device between a patient, their primary care provider, and the specialist
Tools to help guide the conversation with a checklist incorporating whole person health views
After gathering data from the co-design process, we conducted a rapid ideation session within the team and fine-tuned the solution ideas to seamlessly align with the entire health journey.
After identifying all the service components of our design solution, we created journey maps for both patients and providers. We mapped out all the touchpoints, to make sure each service is in a logical order and see how they would affect patients' behaviors and emotions. We also created a service blueprint to optimize interactions across all the actors, including patients, providers, admin, and technology.
Our goal was to assist providers in showing more empathy to their patients, but we needed to do it in a way that fits into their already busy work schedules. During the co-design process, participants suggested a "training for providers in empathy" as a solution, but we realized the challenges of implementing it in their current schedules. Instead, we transformed the idea into something more feasible and easy to implement.
In our research, we found that patients have varied approaches to healthcare and place importance on different aspects of their health and well-being. It was crucial for us to make our solution accessible to people with diverse preferences and needs. To achieve this, we included flexible and customizable features in our design and also integrated non-digital options.
We made the Survey on Patient Needs more flexible, allowing patients to adjust it according to their preferences. They can choose to share information about the categories that matter most to them or their care team needs to be aware of. This will be beneficial for hands-off patients who prefer a less demanding approach and want to avoid excessive mental burden.
To ensure the accessibility of our service, recognizing that not everyone has access to technology, we created a physical version of the Survey on Patient Needs and Conversation Guide that patients can fill out at the clinic.
I included this feature to make it more inclusive and accessible for patients with physical disabilities, language barriers, or learning differences. It will also save time and make the process more efficient for all users.
Although we won't have the means to quantitatively assess the real-world impact of our solutions, our expectations are shaped by the feedback we've received, leading us to anticipate:
"I feel so heard from the co-design session! The Survey on Patient Needs is something I would love to actually use. Most times the [medical] intake form has so many useless and irrelevant things where I feel like the actual issue would be missed. And this cuts down to actually actionable info for the doctor."
- Co-Design Participant
"Their service blueprint was highly technical and demonstrated deep knowledge of the problem space. This well-thought-out project is feasible and comprehensive"
- Capstone Design Judge
"The design solution made creative use of challenges and constraints, balancing the needs of patients and potential adoption by providers. They created something that could work within existing systems."
- Capstone Design Judge
If we had more time, there are several areas that we want to to specifically focus on for testing.
We’d like to gradually implement different aspects of our service to see how patients and providers adapt to the changes. This would allow us to accurately measure the impact of each touchpoint, gather feedback, adapt to user needs based on real user experiences.