Adapting athenahealth's Patient Portal

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The Challenge

Healthcare is not one-size-fits-all, and the online patient portal experience should reflect that.
Informed by the challenges of motherhood and the current direction of Consumer Health at athenahealth, I proposed design solutions to make the patient-facing healthcare portal sensitive to the needs of postpartum mothers.
I expanded on the existing portal framework to make it easier for mothers to address their mental health, find relevant and reliable information, and manage healthcare for their families.

My Role

UX Research, Ideation, UX Design, Prototyping

Our Team

Individual Project, Supervised by Claire Kohler

Context

Spring 2021 Master's Capstone Project

Allowing for discovery enabled me to properly address the needs of postpartum mothers

PROJECT PROCESS

In taking a blue-skies approach to this project, it was especially important for me to start broad in both research and design, allowing me to gather as much information and ideate as much as possible, before narrowing the scope to focus in on specific challenges and solutions.

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A variety of research tools were necessary to help me fully understand the user and to translate research into design

MAIN RESEARCH QUESTIONS
MAIN RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Conducting generative interviews via UserTesting.com was essential in understanding the needs of the users and the variety of experiences that women had, from pregnancy through postpartum

01
What are the key challenges of the postpartum experience?
02
What kinds of technologies are mothers using?
03
How can we more effectively help new mothers find answers to their questions?
04
How can we provide support for the mental health challenges that mothers are facing?
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Gave birth in the last 3-12 months
5
18-26 years old
5
27-35 years old
5
15
participants total
36+ years old
RESEARCH POINTED TO 4 KEY POSTPARTUM TASK AREAS

Use sleep tracker patterns to inform schedule
Check O2 & Sleep baby monitors for peace of mind
Check smartwatches for personal health
Put notes in phone to track healthcare issues
Access portal to track vaccinations and appointment adherence

Tracking and Data

Read internet articles or mom-focused forums
Reach out to moms in personal network
Email or message OBGYN with non-urgent questions
Reference weekly newsletters from doctors or hospitals
Consult apps for information specific to newborn’s age

Information Seeking

Newborn Healthcare

Visit pediatrician routinely
Manage insurance coverage and claims
Message, call, or visit pediatrician with questions
Monitor their health and irregularities at home
Find specialists as needed

Complete self-assessments throughout
Check with doctors to see if it’s more serious
Participate in counseling
Contact doctor if antidepressants are needed

Managing Mental Health

UNDERSTANDING THE JOURNEY FROM PREGNANCY TO POSTPARTUM

Examining the experience of mothers from pregnancy to postpartum based on feedback from the interviews helped me identify pain points, finding that the most complex pain points exist in the postpartum stage

Click on the image to magnify and scroll!
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NARROWING THE SCOPE
Based on my findings, it will be beneficial for me to focus on...

Complete self-assessments throughout
Check with doctors to see if it’s more serious
Participate in counseling
Contact doctor if antidepressants are needed

Managing Mental Health

Read internet articles or mom-focused forums
Reach out to moms in personal network
Email or message OBGYN with non-urgent questions
Reference weekly newsletters from doctors or hospitals
Consult apps for information specific to newborn’s age

Information Seeking

UNDERSTANDING POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION THROUGH AN EMPATHY MAP

Collecting feedback from mothers about their experiences with Postpartum Depression helped me to empathize with an unfamiliar experience and begin to see the challenges for which we should provide more support.

Key Moments:

I feel...

Alone and unprepared

I think...

I don't know how I'm going to handle this

I say...

How do I know if this is normal?

What I do...

Isolate myself

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INFORMAL AUDIT OF COMPETITORS TO IDENTIFY FEATURES AND CONVENTIONS
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HOW MIGHT WE...

Incorporate resources into users’ busy lifestyles?
Be especially empathetic when users need it most?
Help women feel less alone?
Identify PPD in those who don’t realize they have it?
Guide women to understand their experiences?
Clarify the care plan for women with PPD?

Ensure women are assessing their postpartum depression throughout their care plan?
Provide less intensive support for women without PPD?
Identify coping strategies that work for each woman?
Allow women to explore and implement different coping strategies?

Leverage existing messaging infrastructure to provide check-ins?

Connect mothers to other mothers for advice about PPD experience?
Connect mothers to other mothers in their healthcare network for insurance advice?
Customize the information we show to mothers?
Utilize different content mediums?
Make women feel safe?
Make women feel heard?
Make women feel understood?

Help women tell their doctors how they are feeling?
Make a hard conversation easier?
Direct users to see our content?
Present content in a digestible manner?
Connect mothers with healthcare workers who will acknowledge their PPD experience?

CREATING A USER SCENARIO TO SERVE AS REFERENCE DURING DESIGN
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Olivia is a first-time mother to 2-month-old Della. She considers her husband to be her main support system, but neither of them were prepared for the challenges of postpartum.

With the stresses of motherhood, Olivia has deprioritized her own physical and mental health, and she worries that she is not adequately taking care of the rest of her family. She finds that managing everyone’s healthcare in the portal is time-consuming, and it’s hard for her to keep track of all the upcoming needs for herself, her husband, and Della.

The unique challenges of a new schedule, caring for a newborn, hormone changes, and experiencing Postpartum Depression have
made Olivia feel like she is an island. She does not feel that her husband will be able to understand what she is going through, and she does not have a lot of friends with kids that she feels comfortable talking to.

With everything else being so overwhelming, Olivia needs a quick and reliable way to
find expert information that she can trust, and connect with women to seek advice about the postpartum experience.

DESIGN IMPLICATIONS FROM RESEARCH PROCESSES
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Reliable resources that cover a broad range of postpartum topics are necessary, but there should be customization for users so they feel a level of personal support from their healthcare providers

Mothers seek advice from other moms online - community building or
peer support of mothers in the same healthcare could help navigate users healthcare challenges

Further
messaging to normalize Postpartum Depression, accompanied by resources to provide clarity or insight into the experience, would help take the burden off mothers who feel alone or unsupported during this time

Different strategies are preferred by different people - there should not be a one-solution-fits-all approach, and users should be able to
select which resources they would like to utilize

IA diagrams helped determine how the features from the wireframes and existing portal should work together

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TRANSITIONING FROM RESEARCH TO DESIGN
01
Personalized Home Pages
02
Expanded Resources
03
Sensitive Check-ins
&
Other Recommendations
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Feature Areas

FIGURING OUT THE FEATURES

Through my sketching and wireframing process, I explored different check-in modalities, ways to present informational overviews and action items on home pages, and organization, content, and information architecture of resources within the portal.

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PORTAL STRUCTURE

Looking at the features of my designs, I needed to determine how my new solutions (in pink) would integrate with the existing features of the patient portal (outlined in blue). After revising the information architecture a number of times, I decided that many of the new features should live within a high-level "resources" function that could easily be adapted by to the varying needs of different practices.

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Focusing on three feature areas afforded time for iterations and seamless integration

PERSONALIZED HOME PAGES
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EXPANDED RESOURCES
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SENSITIVE CHECK-INS
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OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS
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01
Expand upcoming care to include other time-sensitive tasks, such as medication refills and immunizations
02
Address massive insurance challenges for families with a newborn
03
Consider how to help patients easily find therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists to help manage their postpartum depression while inside the portal
04
Add to newborn profile: customize with integration of trackers (sleep and O2 were popular in interviews)
01
HI-FI PROTOTYPE
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Documenting processes and decisions is especially important during remote work to help with alignment between team members

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NEXT STEPS
LESSONS LEARNED
  • Be open to research findings guiding design solutions and be ready to pivot if necessary

  • Plan to incorporate multiple rounds of research or testing into the timeline to narrow down needs

  • Focus on the bigger picture and give ideas some time to settle before jumping right in

  • Documenting processes and decisions is important for more than just myself - it helps others to see my thinking throughout the process

  • Building relationships remotely is challenging - ask for feedback and establish communication

  • User testing to test resonance or expectations for these designs

  • Ensure designs adapt to desktop functionality

  • Consider how tech such as voice assistants could help users quickly access information in articles or complete postpartum check-ins

  • Consider how added functionalities can be expanded to other conditions (diabetes, injuries, etc.)