Interview with Eric Swanson, Sr. Product Manager, Zotec Partners
Healthcare portals are an integral part of the overall clinical and financial care experience today, for everyone—patients and providers. For patients, a healthcare portal is the one-stop-shop for everything from scheduling appointments, viewing test results, communicating with providers, and paying for treatment. For providers, accessing key financial information and data is a must-have for navigating the business of healthcare.
However, simply accessing data for providers is not enough anymore. They need a way to view, sort, analyze, and interpret data to take action on opportunities presented. That’s why intuitive interfaces and designs for healthcare provider portals are crucial. They can make sense of diverse goals and workflows, ensuring that the different functions within a healthcare environment are connected and in control.
For example, the same world of data can be used and presented in different ways to uncover different views, depending on the user’s roles and responsibilities. A revenue cycle manager who oversees several provider locations will need to access benchmarking data they can compare across varying locations to do their job effectively. A radiology provider will need to access a subset of that data for transparency into relative value units and productivity. The CFO needs data based on yearly budgetary goals, key performance indicators, and other high-level financial measurements.
Why is it important that the interface and design is user friendly? Well, much like if you’re exploring a national park, without a readable map, the park will soon appear like vast wilderness. There may be a great view from the top of a particular hiking trail, but you won’t know about it unless someone has already beaten out a path and shown you the way. In healthcare, user-friendliness is vital because it makes sure that every stakeholder arrives to the level of understanding they need.
What does a user-friendly interface actually mean?
The tricky part about learning how to create user-friendly interfaces is that a great UX is minimal and somewhat invisible. If an interface has truly intuitive UX, you hardly notice it’s there. Take Apple’s interfaces, for example. Apple’s home screen is an intuitive application in and of itself, but it is so simple and human that users just see each app going into its little icon.
If you need to boil down what a user-friendly interface is in two words, go for minimal and simple. Every step of the workflow should have a good reason for being there. Minimal and simple designs are intuitive to users because it reduces the amount of information they are taking in on a screen. By designing things minimally, we empower users to fully focus in on and understand the elements that are present.
Customizing a portal to fit the specific needs of different users is crucial, especially when you’re thinking about user-friendly UX design in healthcare. Customization is how technology provides value for providers, allowing them to gain and offer personal care and attention, even when they can’t meet with people face-to-face.
This kind of healthcare technology creates a competitive advantage; you become a source of value and a hub for people trying to make sense of their day. Through one product, we can tackle and present various workflows depending on who the user is, so they don’t need to adopt a new technology solution for every problem or workflow they encounter.
How can decision-makers improve the efficiency of workflows with intuitive UX?
It’s clear from our observation of decision makers, providers, and patients, and how they actually use healthcare provider portals, that intuitive UX design makes a huge difference to problems that arise throughout their work. So how can we use our tools to create a more intuitive experience that actually improves operational efficiency and optimizes revenue?
1. Prioritize customization
With customization, a portal can cater to various individuals from their unique vantage point, whether they’re logging in as a CFO, a provider, or a revenue cycle manager. A member of the C-suite may get a bird’s eye view of every location, while a single provider gets a dashboard of localized information. We’re catering that information to their scope as an individual, then continuing to build on that by offering workflows and insights dedicated to those needs.
2. Benchmark against relevant data types
It makes sense for certain personas to benchmark against certain data types. For example, benchmark against gross collection rate and you can predict what your reimbursement (payments) will be for business inputs (charges). Benchmarking procedural data could also be useful for some personas. Visibility can be gained into how costs-per-procedure measure up across locations, and how valuable that procedure is in the context of your whole patient population.
Charge volume, procedures, or encounter volume are also relevant benchmarks to see how many patients and services you’re providing. Denials are also relevant because some are directly related to issues on the client side. You can input your own benchmarks, or you can work with a client relationship manager to input goals and score them against those in CZAR. Through CZAR, different personas can get reporting on data and analytics that relate to their level of involvement within the revenue cycle.
3. Gather feedback and incorporate changes
The research and development phases are vital for UI and UX design. We often pause in the process to gather requirements and information from internal stakeholders, and, most importantly, the end user. When we push content to them, we want them to get value out of using CZAR, but when they’re not in CZAR we want to give them content that reiterates the value of Zotec to them as business partners. We talk through the workflows that are necessary for their day, figure out pain points in those flows, and then our proposed design can form a kind of open question that those clients can then respond to. Did we get it right? How much of that pain point still exists?
Whether gathering requirements and information from clients, internal stakeholders, or the end user, we’re trying to strategically build external content connections that brings relevant and helpful information requested by clients, or anything we believe would be valuable for their business.
As complexities in providing healthcare continue to be at the forefront for medical practices, the best thing our data and analytics solutions can do is to decrease stress, help solve problems faster, and improve efficiency. Providers can leave the complexities of the data work in the past and move into the real work of communicating and treating health issues effectively and efficiently. Though provider portals exist and are used today, an intuitive UX is a great step toward the improvement and innovation that brings meaningful service and care for providers and patients alike.