What Informs Medical Practice Software Design?

By Shibani Dhume  |  April 10, 2018

Kareo was honored with the 2018 U.S. Ambulatory EHR Enabling Technology Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan. In light of this, we wanted to share a post by Sr. UX Designer in Product Development. Shibani shares a glimpse of the kind of thinking and contemplation that goes into designing user experiences in Kareo software. It is the highlight of Shibani’s day to collaborate directly with customers in innovating and improving efficiency and functionality for those using the software day to day. She welcomes Kareo customers to send their feedback directly to the product development team to get their voice heard.  —From the Editor


User experience design plays a huge role in our product development process here at Kareo. We are always trying to find ways to improve our customers’ experience as well as our internal development processes, so I was excited to attend the UX Immersion conference in Newport Beach, CA—just 10 minutes away from our office! We talked designing interactions, mapping experiences, crafting UX Metrics, and developing strategy with industry experts like Jared Spool, Kate Rutter and Jim Kalbach.

Here’s what I took away to inform my work in designing clinical care, billing and patient engagement software experiences for independent medical practices and their billing partners.

Mapping Customer Experiences

Jim Kalbach, noted author and speaker in UX design and information architecture, ran a workshop on engaging internal stakeholders by creating maps to visually represent user needs. He walked us through the process of facilitating a mapping exercise and engaging others in the process to make it actionable. We do a lot of this at Kareo, especially customer journey mapping to understand the end-to-end process from our customer’s perspectives. This is a key part of our product development process because we have so many different departments that have contact with customers, it’s important to understand the interactions across all channels.


An example of a customer journey mapping exercise for making enhancements to the enrollments process.

Kalbach stressed the importance of asking ourselves this question when designing every stage in the customer journey: “What do we want our customer to become?” Solutions that merely please or meet our customer’s needs aren’t enough — they represent yesterday’s design paradigms. They don’t transform people. Let’s take eBay for example—what did eBay transform their customers into? Entrepreneurs. Google transformed their customers into Expert Researchers. As a product team, we ask ourselves, “What does Kareo want our customers to become?” What do medical providers, practice staff and billers need to become in order to excel and thrive in what they do? This is a question I’m excited to be incorporating in our journey mapping sessions.

Building a Continuous Learning Team

“The only things worse than training an employee and losing them is to not train them and keep them.”
 — Zig Ziglar

Kate Rutter, Principal at Intelleto and thought leader in the UX Design space, gave a great talk on building a culture of continuous learning. This is extremely important in the world of software because things are always changing (especially in healthcare). 

So how do we go about building a culture of continuous learning?

We have to shift our mindsets. We have to banish “expert” as an identity and think of ourselves as having expertise. We have to adopt a 2-way learning system — rather than having mentors and students, we have learning partners. Kate Rutter provides a framework to illustrate the four stages of learning: Duality, Multiplicity, Relativism, and Commitment. She admits that she chose words that were hard to remember, but abbreviates the framework as “Du-Mu-Rel-Com” (it’s a stretch, but it kept me from having to look back at my notes to remember).

So keeping this framework in mind, what are some simple things we could do to adopt this continuous learning culture?

  1. Create a knowledge map — simply write down the things you want to learn. This could be an effective exercise to have applicants do in an interview.
  2. Dedicate an hour a day for focused, goal-oriented practice.
  3. Conduct brown bags over lunch to share what you’ve learned with your colleagues.
  4. Set personal OKRs (objectives & key results) and measure your progress.

Here’s a picture of my first attempt at a knowledge map. As I iterate on this, it will become more structured.

Crafting a UX Metric

“Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results.” 
— John Maeda, former president of Rhode Island School of Design

I believe what differentiates good designers from great ones is the ability to understand and communicate how design delivers business value for our customers.

In this workshop, Kate Rutter had us think about a project we were working on and identify the key features and interactions. She then walked us through establishing a key metric that would allow us to measure the value of these interactions. What I’ve seen happen at other companies is that product teams look at “vanity metrics” in measuring customer engagement (and satisfaction), things like registered users, downloads, page views. These are surface-level metrics that are not actionable. An “awesome metric” is clear and specific, normalized (with a rate/ratio), comparative and most importantly it should enable you to make changes to improve your product.

Applying this to a current design project I’m working on, here's an attempt at putting together a key metric to measure adoption of an upcoming patient e-intake feature.

Using our "Awesome Metric" as a guide, let's say that in week 1, we saw that on average our medical practice customers were receiving two e-intake forms from patients per week. In week 6, we saw that this average went up to four intake forms per week. Hopefully adoption of the new e-intake form shouldn’t be this slow, but in the case that it is, we can immediately see that there is an issue and address it as soon as possible.

Kareo is making a big stride towards data-informed design. We are currently in the middle of an exciting project to improve our product analytics to have metrics that reflect the quality of the user experience. These metrics will help us understand where our customers are succeeding, where they are struggling and ultimately allow us to focus our efforts on improving our product in a meaningful way.

Till Next Time!

Thanks to everyone at UX Immersion for the inspiring talks and bringing together some really talented designers from all over the country. It was exciting to meet industry experts that I’ve been following for years like Jared Spool and Kate Rutter. I’m looking forward to take what I’ve learned and apply it to our product design processes here at Kareo.

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