InsightTech 12.10.2016

Designing human-centered software for cancer care

The healthcare sector, and especially cancer care, is a fascinating domain for design: clinical processes are complex and treatments are extremely emotional experiences for the patient. Based on our experiences with Kaiku® Health, a well designed software can significantly improve the quality of life of patients as well as the work of clinical staff.

We have two main principles on our design: we work relentlessly together with our users and we are obsessed about usability.

Revealing the user needs

A great UX design fits effortlessly to different settings and supports the user’s daily tasks and goals. At Netmedi our tool set for understanding the user needs mainly consists of interviews with patients and contextual inquiry with medical staff.

The medical staff usually works at a well-defined context, the clinic. We use contextual inquiry, that combines observation and interview methods to efficiently build a rich and detailed image of a person’s work environment. Contextual inquiry excels at revealing the tacit knowledge in people’s work, that is difficult to put to words. As a relatively open-ended method it often also reveals unexpected results – such as surprising tasks or process shortcuts.

Patients have less clear tasks and their needs vary considerably during the patient journey that can last years. With classic interviews we gather information about the patient’s story, experiences and needs during their treatment and recovery. To add an authentic context to the interviews, we sometimes conduct them at the patient’s home or use visual materials to bring up experiences.

Cancer treatment and recovery is a lengthy process. People tend to forget things – not only over months and years but even over hours and days. Thus information gathered in interviews is often lacking in detail. Using diary studies helps gain richer and more open ended data during the whole treatment and recovery process.

Testing designs in the real world

To make Kaiku® Health as easy-to-use as possible we run regular usability tests.

Quantitative data from surveys or from the software usage can be difficult to act upon, but it helps us to identify potentially problematic features. Complementing quantitative data with open questions and interviews helps us to understand the meaning of the data. Our customer support also provides us with valuable information about user feedback and questions.

Having specific pilot users to test new features or major design changes before deploying them to all users is invaluable. By combining this with diary studies we can gather rich information about how Kaiku® Health improves patients’ everyday life.

Above all methods

A good mix of methods, tireless iteration and hunger for constant improvement is necessary for building excellent user experiences in our complex world. But they’re not enough – building software for human beings requires empathy and appreciation of people as they are. In the end, it’s not really about the methods themselves, but the attitude and a big heart.

P.S. We are super excited to tell you soon about the next updates on our UX-design!

Written by Emil Virkki, UX Designer at Netmedi


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