What is the role of user-experience research in improving member experience?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Imagine that you have just relocated to Portland, Oregon for a new job and it’s a beautiful summer day. You’re sitting in your new office Downtown and have just decided to check out the best lunch restaurants nearby with outdoor patios. Within a few minutes, using your “Restaurant Finder” app, you have decided where you will head out for lunch that afternoon.

Reeling back to real life, try replacing “Restaurant Finder” with “Finding a doctor”. How does that experience feel? While the expectation from both cases might not be exactly the same, the success metrics can be unified, the “experience” of fulfilling a basic human need, food and good health!

User experience is not a “one-size-fits-all approach”
HealthSparq aims to empower members by helping them make smarter health choices, thereby helping to reduce the information gap that exists in the member-provider relationship. A member’s journey will often begin from that “Find a Doctor” tool on the health plan’s website. Let’s just call it the “Doorway to health systems”. User-experience research permeates through every stage of a product life cycle. It begins at the formulation of design to the Product-end-user interface. Most importantly, it provides a feedback loop to the design process. Usability of a product is not just a “one-size-fits-all approach”. It is about delivering a quality product that pertains to every member population, ranging from the tech-savvy millennial to the not-so-tech-savvy Medicare population. At HealthSparq, we are committed to delivering a high-quality product by using strategies of design thinking, journey mapping and analytics.

What does that mean for HealthSparq, exactly?
Our end users are health plan members. We all know that health care is often not a delightful journey and that health care issues often bring along emotional and financial stress. The user on the other side of the desktop or mobile app is not just a search entry but could be someone fighting a serious disease or a chronic illness; a mother researching care options for her kids or a hypochondriac researching every disease known to man…or maybe they are new to the country and are trying to understand the American health care system. By being empathetic to these issues, a UX designer may be able to achieve better member satisfaction.

Our approach to User Experience

  1. Member Journey Mapping
    Simply put, this is the “soup to nuts” journey of a member! It is important to identify all the possible touch points and thus identifying the gaps. The main steps of journey mapping are:
    • Creating a member persona: Age, Sex, Location, Profession?
    • Tasks that the members will possibly perform: What’s on your mind?
    • Technology/device that the member will be using: ipad/iphone/Mac or windows…what’s your style?
    • Physical condition of the member and the physical environment in which the member is using the software (e.g. hospital, home, work): What’s your location?
    • Schedule of the member to estimate the time availability: Busy, super-busy or chilled out?
  2. Design Thinking
    After charting out the member journey map, we pick the part of the journey that we need to understand and apply the design thinking principle to that part of the member experience. This image is a visual representation of the steps.
  3. Prototype Testing Done. Implemented…Check! Now let’s evaluate…
    As mentioned earlier, user experience research feedback loops back into the design process. As members are the core of our product, we want to learn more about their experience. We want to make them feel heard and provide them a platform to praise or criticize our product. We do this through surveys on the website that the member can easily access. The survey questions measure the satisfaction, experience and ease of performing the task, and also offers the option to “rate a scale”.
  4. Analytics, our friend, philosopher and guide!
    The surveys are helpful in generating both qualitative and quantitative data. Once the feedback is received from the members, it is visually represented to study the patterns in which problems are encountered. The “pain points” are identified from the “Voice of Customer” segment and quantitative data is derived from the “rate the scale” questions. Strategic decisions to improve the product can be made by evaluating the patterns over a time frame. The quantitative data gathered can provide a perspective to both predictive and prescriptive analytics.

So, what is the conclusion?
Understanding the member journey and identifying the pain points encountered in the path are pivotal to forming creative solutions. To provide efficient customer-driven solutions, one of the key takeaways is to not presume that the researcher knows the member but actually wants to “find out” who the member is, what are their expectations and how they can be best met. The focus during the whole process is listening to our members and trying to walk in their shoes to derive what attributes (cost, comfort, convenience, accessibility) matter to them the most. In the long run, these are the parameters that will drive member engagement. For example, a data mining engineer once pointed out that simply moving the search box from the side to the center of a home page would produce enough additional “click throughs” to bring in millions more dollars in advertising revenue a year. Since most of the member journeys begin with the “Find a Doctor” tool followed by the “Cost Estimator” tool, we can play our role in making member experience better. Improving the member experience will increase member engagement and help us make better strategic decisions. With better application of the user experience tools, one day we will head towards that “app” which will help us “Find a doctor or hospital facility” just one click away, at a reasonable cost and just a few minutes away!