Research & Design Strategy

Part 2: Mapping the way to seamless integration

February 09, 2017

As consumers, we all appreciate a seamless experience.

Delivering human-centered solutions in healthcare means thinking about the total user experience from start to finish. It’s rare when something is successfully designed in a vacuum, especially in healthcare and medical devices. Each design decision lies within a deeply interdependent, complicated system. As with most things in healthcare, the process of creating a seamless experience is complicated, too.

It starts with due diligence in mapping user experiences and the systems in place to deliver those services. By creating detailed maps of the systems/services/experiences, the project team has full understanding when they choose to focus on one area over another. Maps also provide visibility into the contextual and systemic implications of focusing on specific areas. Maps guide the team in understanding how to address gaps and pain points in the system, and it gives a clear understanding of how new solutions must integrate in order to thrive instead of being attacked by the white blood cells of the system. An initial experience map is not a solution, but a model to establish a shared understanding of the current state and a catalyst to design and innovation efforts.

Detailed experience maps for a healthcare service or a medical device are often so complex that they fill part of or the entire length of a wall. The experience may even require several maps or be accompanied by a macro-overview map. Each detail can be contextual and actionable for a designer.

However, maps serve another purpose. The experience map can serve as a constant at-a-glance reminder for the many people, teams and stakeholders involved in contributing to the creation or improvement of a solution. Company stakeholders, executives and business units often post an experience map up on their wall as a constant reminder to see the forest from the trees when they get pulled into the weeds. It keeps them focused on the system, the pains, the gaps and the interdependencies.

There are two key lenses of an experience that need to be mapped:

  1. The user- and customer-facing (front stage) experiences. This view is most helpful for informing and inspiring design teams to create human-centered solutions.
  2. The systems that must be in place to make sure the product or service can be delivered. The customer doesn’t see many of these critical backstage steps. These elements (people, props, places, partnerships, processes) are key components to a service blueprint that ultimately creates a guide to implementation. This information is most helpful to informing service design and ensuring seamless implementation that can deliver on the front stage experiences.

User experience maps

First, let’s talk about the user experience map. It visually illustrates the steps in the processes, the journey of the various users, and interconnectedness of the overall experience in a model that is easy to understand. The key elements on the map should include:

Users: This includes a breakdown of key user types from end users and influencers to decision makers. The map often calls out their emotional journey.

Tasks: This is a consideration of all of the tasks along the process including how users acquire, use, store, re-use and dispose of products and tools or the actions to utilize a service. Over time, this may include daily, weekly, monthly, annual or seasonal variations.

Tools: This is all of the hardware, software, commodity and communication tools used along the process. This includes details down to forms, patient IDs and RFID information.

Environments: These are all of the special environments including offsite and remote locations of users as well as virtual environments.

Additionally, all of these elements should:

  • Show progress over time
  • Scale or proportion the stages of the experience relative to each another
  • Signal the interconnectedness of the various elements.

For healthcare and medical devices, a simple list of key map elements becomes a complex system very quickly. Users can be broken up into three key types: end users, influencers and decision makers. For example, the end user for a blood diagnostic instrument is not only the patient who receives the result of the blood test, but also the laboratory technician operating the instrument and the person servicing and

The experience map is not a solution, but a model to establish a shared understanding and a catalyst to design efforts.

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