By: Andrew Schall, Senior Director of User Experience at ModMed® — ModMed won twice in the 2021 SaaS Awards in the award categories for “Best SaaS for Healthcare” and “Best UX or UI Design in a SaaS Product”

Ask any health IT professional about their company’s top priority and they will likely cite the importance of a well-designed user experience, which makes the tools we create more effective for clinicians and improves the patient experience.

Focusing on UX has been a guiding principle in the healthcare industry since the proliferation of electronic health records (EHRs) in the early 2000s. Yet as we saw, the COVID-19 pandemic placed additional strain on our healthcare providers, which only intensified the need to build intuitive, easy-to-use solutions that can lessen the burdens placed on physicians.

At ModMed®, we have identified three key attributes that serve as the foundation of our UX strategy that have helped us become a SaaS Winner in both the “Best SaaS for Healthcare” and “Best UX or UI Design in a SaaS Product” categories in the global software awards program.

Key #1: Health IT Needs Clinical Efficiency

The list starts here because clinical efficiency is the most important characteristic that our customers look for in their software. To deliver solutions that help improve practice efficiency, we must first understand the workflow that the provider already follows during a typical patient visit, and create workflows that match their mental model and process for completing tasks.

ModMed builds software solutions that are specific to each medical specialty we serve, and each solution is uniquely designed to meet the needs of that specialty. This is because the steps an orthopedic surgeon takes during a patient visit – the tests ordered, the questions asked, the symptoms documented – are very different from that of an ophthalmologist, for example.

To discover the unique needs of each specialty prior to the pandemic, we conducted foundational user research through:

  • on-site observational studies
  • behavioral surveys
  • user interviews

We learned the workflows of clinicians in that specialty. The physician workflow informed the design, not the other way around, which we believe is the best way to ensure that we avoid unnecessary or arbitrary steps that can take away from time with patients.

The overall goal is to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a physician to accurately document a patient visit and perform necessary follow-up actions. Once we understand the specialty-specific workflow, our design and product teams evaluate usage of the software and pinpoint areas to streamline and refine, such as improving the placement of elements on the screen or decreasing information overload.

Because most physicians see upwards of 100 patients per week, even shaving off 10 to 15 seconds to perform an action is considered a significant win. While it’s a time-consuming process, mapping those interactions gives us a deeper understanding of the customer journey and helps us to identify inefficiencies. 

By understanding the workflow inside and out, we can more easily find ways to deploy automation, for example, and reduce the number of clicks the physician makes. Those wasteful clicks that we refer to as “empty clicks” contribute to physician fatigue and mitigating them is a crucial element to our mission.

Physician fatigue is an issue that can be addressed in many ways

Key #2: Medicine Software Learnability

A design team should always strive to build a product that’s easy to learn with minimal training required. The research we do around increasing efficiency for individual specialties promotes learnability within our solutions, since the software already follows the steps a physician is most likely to take. By designing the software around how each specialty practices medicine, we are factoring in the procedures that clinicians already do before they use our software, making it feel natural and intuitive to them. Practices are always onboarding new staff members and we aim to make it extremely easy for new staff to learn how to use our software through the contextual learning tools embedded in our products.

Learnability is also a huge factor when it comes to patient engagement solutions. Patients don’t want to spend a lot of time in a patient portal or app. They want to get in, complete the task or access the information they need, and get on with their lives as quickly as possible.

To accomplish this, our learnability standards for patients specifically are dramatically higher than a physician who is going to get formal training on a product. We have conducted usability testing that helps inform our product design with patients who are between 18 and 90 years old to ensure it can be used by almost anyone.

One of the ways we enhance learnability is through an embedded user guidance tool that provides a guided walkthrough of the software. It offers contextual help that allows us to see specifically what the user is trying to accomplish and help with that task. That technology can also assist with things such as helping patients pay their bills more easily or scheduling a follow-up visit with their doctor.

ModMed’s interface

Key #3: User Satisfaction Tracking

At the end of the day, we want each of our users to be satisfied with their experience — and we have an array of tools to track that.

One method we have is an in-app survey, so users can select a button anywhere in the application to provide feedback that goes directly to the product team. We have logic built into the survey so that it can categorize the type of feedback for better tracking and reporting. We also have something that I call a “micro survey.” It is a short, contextually relevant survey that only asks a question if the user has used a specific feature. This is especially beneficial for launching new features. It allows us to quickly get feedback from people who are using the feature, without disrupting those who aren’t. The response rate on the micro surveys has been extraordinarily high because it’s so quick and directly related to what that user is doing at the moment.

By prioritizing efficiency, learnability and satisfaction, our team has developed a formula for what we believe is a successful user experience, but we also acknowledge the importance of flexibility. As technologies and user preferences change, we have to be ready to adapt to ensure that we’re meeting our standards in each of the categories mentioned above. 

Andrew Schall is the Senior Director of User Experience at ModMed, a leading healthcare technology vendor.