“Design must seduce, shape, and perhaps more importantly, evoke emotional response” – April Greiman. Absolutely to the point in the consumer-facing world. But well, maybe not in healthcare. Designing for patients and physicians and all other medical stakeholders will need to convince rather than to seduce. Instead of amusing people in consumer products, designing for healthcare needs a very different approach because people’s lives rely on what you design. Thus, Usability usually becomes the priority for the user experience designer. Designers will need to make sure the font size is big enough and the color is punchy enough and all the info could be squeezed in a 20 inch display so that the patient monitor conveys information and data effectively (which also usually leads to a not very pleasing visual design). Designers will need to calculate the fewest steps and shortest time for the clinical workflow so that sonographers can perform ultrasound tests for more patients during a day. Designers also need to fight for the consistency thru out the whole healthcare system so that the experience across different platforms will be seamless. Well, all these efforts seem to serve the reassurance of usability in healthcare. If you refer to the pyramid of experience underneath, it’s now all about the useful/reliable/usable level. How could we make things more pleasurable and meaningful in healthcare?
When comparing the consumer world and the healthcare world, you will find the former one is much more accelerating while the later one needs more time to cook. For the past decades, healthcare has always been in a low pace. There’re various reasons. First, The healthcare and insurance policies are holding it back because of the different interest from different stakeholders; and while you are about to approach the healthcare system, it’s too bulky to navigate around. What’s more, healthcare technology is evolving slowly. Take ultrasound for example. The hospital will purchase a new set of ultrasound machines and systems every 8 years, if not more than. But a consumer might probably have changed 2 or 3 smartphones during a year. Lastly, whatever you want to fix a healthcare system, the cost(not only from the money perspective) is too much because all the trained medical professionals are already used to the existing protocols, which take much time to learn and excellent.
The great interaction designers in healthcare is in short supply. Partly because some social thing or e-commerce or high-profile startups in SV suck up the talents. Something like social photo-sharing apps can sometimes easily balloon to something big, while creating solutions for real problems in fields like healthcare or education seems daunting because the system is too complicated and takes much effort to learn and develop. The world doesn’t need another photo-sharing apps. The best interaction designers should be tackling these really problems – healthcare, instead of getting people to click on ads.
In additional, as the healthcare evolves from the diagnosis and treatment to more prevention and wellness, there’re a lot of emerging opportunities for interaction designers. Fitness and tracking like Jawbone and Fitbit, Apple’s Healthbook, Internet of Things in ICUs, Google Glass being used in surgery, etc. These are all new exciting interaction paradigm we can approach for a better healthcare. And as it transfers its focus to a deeper and a more personal ways, chances come that we can design healthcare the same way as we design for the existing consumer world.
The future of healthcare needs new interaction technologies. We, as interaction designers, are fortunate enough to be at the basis of this leading edge to push for new interaction paradigms. The world is demanding access to quality healthcare. And the quality healthcare is demeaning the highest quality interaction designers.