Personas and User Journeys in Health

The health system is so complex and every day on the wards, you're bound to meet someone from a completely different background than you are. As healthcare professionals, because we meet so many people, empathy is such an essential element in our practice. I love the principles of UX because it alludes strongly to designing things with empathy, to ensure that we cater for all the populations that filter in and out of the health system. 

Creating our personas from UX research is an amazing way to truly gain insights into the predicaments of our users. Using these persona's and then mapping out their journey to accomplish specific tasks is a powerful way to look at the real pain points and using those pain points to create solutions that can be as simple or as complex as you want. A lot of the times we don't realise that these are the problems our users face until we are empathetic of their journey and then we can truly feel what they feel when using our services.

The health system is full of different users and the personas are aplenty. You have your patients that are either coming through ED, are a planned patient, long stay, short stay, young or old. With such a variety of patients that come through the system, a one size fits all approach to our user's problems will not work. What may work intuitively for some patients i.e. those who are technologically competent and then designing all our interfaces to be primarily digital interfaces will exclude those that are not competent with technology. It is through the development of our personas that we can understand thoroughly of the smaller things that we can implement to improve the patient experience.

Let's take 2 separate visits to hospital and you will have:

  • Sally Ryan - 33 year old mother to 3 year old Chloe, who is bringing Chloe in because she is worried about Chloe's temperature and she isn't playing as much
  • Heather Franklin - 83 year old admitted with an exacerbation of COPD 

Sally's Persona and User Journey may look a little something like this...

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Sally Ryan's user journey through ED

Sally Ryan's user journey through ED

Heather's Persona and her User Journey might look a little something like this

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Heather's user journey throughout her hospital stay

Heather's user journey throughout her hospital stay

It is apparent that Sally and Heather's user journeys are markedly different and here in, they have different requirements and pain points. Henceforth, we need to design an experience that caters for what these two users of our health system need. Perhaps if we understand if Sally is a hypochondriac (or not), maybe we can provide parents with young children with information via their predominant behaviours such as their usage of social media. Maybe in Sally's case we can simply orientate these patients to their surroundings a bit better and have procedures which remind our clinicians to notify their next of kins of their situations in a more timely fashion. Sometimes the tweaks to user experience don't necessarily have to be rooted in technological solutions. In fact, it is through mapping our user's journeys and understanding their pain points that we can find areas to improve upon. There's so much to be done and that is exciting!