Nowadays, health-tech is one of the fastest-growing sectors globally, making the stakes exceedingly high. According to a 2019 survey, 88% percent of healthcare providers are evaluating, or have invested in, remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies. By 2025, investments in the healthcare service market, hardware, and AI software will have reached $34 billion.

Challenges in Healthcare UX

In the healthcare system, modern technologies provide patients with safer, more comfortable, and better services. For this to work properly however, the technology has to be user-friendly. Healthcare workers have to feel confident and comfortable they use these tools. It is also not only doctors that take care of our health. People can select from many digital products that will help us to live and perform better. In the long run, the key to the success of these gadgets and apps is however user-friendliness. The design process of healthcare products must not only focus on what people want, but also on what tools and treatments patients need, and what doctors battle the most with. With this in mind, let’s look at the top UX trends in healthcare.

8 Healthcare UX Challenges Presented By Tech Trends

1. RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring)

RPM technologies free up the time of busy medical professionals and benefit patients.
Clinics have recently been applying RPM for patients recovering from COVID-19 as part of an interactive care plan.

This technology is used to transmit patients’ vital signs in real-time. A patient is able to enter their symptoms, and wearable tools are then used to send information about blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and temperature that medical professionals can monitor and analyze. Dashboards are used to send alerts and provide guidance if changes occur during the disease, and help medical staff in responding immediately.

2. Medical Wearables

In the last few years, smart devices have become more common, and they are able to produce an unbelievable amount of data that can be used by experts and researchers. Millions own a fitness monitor app on their phone, smartwatch, or smart bracelet. With self-monitoring applications, it becomes possible to analyze and change our habits to improve our well-being. Data visualization helps us understand how we live, and we check our blood pressure, analyze our sleeping patterns, and track our daily steps and activities. A posture tracker can be used to analyze our body movements and it will notify us when we have to get up and take a break. This is even more important as people have started working from home and their living space gets increasingly smaller. Employers that realized this are fortunately also supporting their remote workers in this regard. In the current health crisis, digital stethoscopes are extremely useful as they help doctors get data digitized fast while minimizing personal contact with infected patients. New developments also enable medical centers to monitor oxygen levels and other symptoms of patients from a distance via wearable tools and provide home healthcare kits.

3. Personalized Experiences And Consumer-Focused Designs In Healthcare

As information has become available online 24/7, patients have become consumers that have an interest in and knowledge about the circumstances and possibilities of their medical treatment. As they gain access to their treatment history and records, they have become better engaged and more involved with health services. A good example is the AbleTo system, which assists people that suffer from mental problems. Patients can control their own treatments by making use of its personalized programs. The whole experience is made more humane by providing little personalized tips and using understandable language. AbleTo even offers patients the facility to create their own health programs. A designer is responsible for creating more personalized journeys. Users become industry consumers as their awareness of their overall well-being increases. They must be able to check lab results in a few steps, schedule their own appointments quickly and easily, and understand medical expressions. Patient engagement research therefore adds a huge advantage to developing healthcare products.

4. Telemedicine

One drawback of the telemedicine concept was that some therapists and doctors were reluctant to lose their personal contact with patients. In 2020, this could however not be avoided anymore. Nurses, doctors, and patients have been forced to interact virtually more often. Forrester’s research shows that by the end of 2020, more than 1 billion virtual doctor-patient consultations would have taken place. Video-chatting and messaging make things much easier for both parties, as it saves time for medical professionals, while patients are provided with answers without having to put others or themselves at risk by going to crowded public spaces.

5. Chatbots and AI

Medical teams are often overwhelmed, and the problem gets worse when a team member falls away due to illness. As more help is required, AI technologies can be used to take over many tasks. In high-risk areas, touch-free solutions are essential.

Using chatbots is one way of helping to alleviate the pressure on healthcare support systems. These need to be made intuitive and must be able to provide well-written and relevant responses. Some examples of using chatbots for simple tasks include checking on health conditions, medication reminders, and appointment booking.

As AI advances, chatbot functionality will improve to cover more healthcare areas for both doctors and patients. The correct type of AI will enable chatbots to assist patients with managing chronic illness, double-checking diagnosis, and providing more personal and personalized responses.

AI technologies will also help collect and analyze patient-generated data efficiently to provide healthcare solutions that are effective. Tractica predicts that by 2025, AIs will help in managing numerous areas in the healthcare industry, including the following:

1. Healthcare VDAs
2. Analyzing medical images
3. Recommending medical treatment
4. Computational drug effectiveness and drug discovery
5. Assisting with a medical diagnosis
6. Processing patient data
7. Generating reports automatically
8. Converting paperwork to digital data
9. Discovering biomarkers
10. Managing hospital patient systems

6. Augmented and Virtual Reality

VR (Virtual Reality) can help simulate situations and gain experience that was not possible to explore previously. VR is already being used in some healthcare fields, and this tendency will continue to grow.

Virtual Reality is also being used more frequently in therapeutic situations. The AppliedVR platform focuses on healthcare and allows patients to escape from frightening medical treatments by going on a guided relaxation session driven by a VR tool. Taking them to travel to wonderful places or into games helps to remove the patients’ focus from the reality of treatments that are not pleasant.

Augmented Reality (AR) enables the showing of additional information on digital devices apart from real world data. This can be used to pioneer diagnostics or surgical planning. Although some development has already started, many more AR and VR projects will be introduced to the healthcare industry this year.

These software technologies may also become a part of surgical training to approve medical students for practicing in real-life environments. Recently developed VR technologies are also used to analyze detailed images of lung scans from COVID-19 patients.

7. Designing Ethical Mental Health Digital Products

It is abundantly clear that social media can have a huge impact on our thoughts and life. Some basic research will quickly show you how dangerous it is, and how it can keep us sharing content all the time, clicking, and scrolling. Future development must take this problem into account. As ordinary people, including doctors, often face some form of depression or suffer from anxiety, we should mention digital products and applications that can help avoid burnout. Using slow movements, there are increasingly more applications that help people direct their thoughts towards mindfulness. Happiness hormones are produced and anxiety is reduced by regular physical exercise. If you have a daily habit it gives the feeling of control and sets boundaries. Many applications provide free exercise plans with various exercise styles and intensity levels. These also often provide well-thought out videos to help avoid injuries. If you have recently started on this journey, meditation apps can be very handy. Between 3 and 5 minutes per day can bring about huge changes in your life within a few short weeks. These changes will not only become apparent in your way of thinking, but they will also affect your physical well-being. Headspace is one example of a well-designed app that is targeted at beginners. A calming voice is used to lead the user through guided sessions, and they will feel totally relaxed in even the smallest parts of their body after a few minutes.

8. Voice User Interfaces

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a fundamental change in our perceptions and how we use devices. To use devices by having to touch them nowadays carries the risk of getting infected or spreading diseases. Although hand and device disinfection helps to alleviate this possibility, the need for using specific devices frequently such as ticket machines, smartwatches, and smartphones makes constant disinfection and sanitization unrealistic or inconvenient. This is where voice user interfaces become very effective in making devices safer and more efficient to use. Voice user interfaces enable contact-free communications by letting users command and control devices via speech. Voice user interfaces can be extremely useful to promote safer usage, especially of public devices like ATMs and ticket machines. Voice user interfaces in the healthcare sector offer an ideal solution for contactless operation while still providing integration with graphic user interfaces. When gloves are used while typing or touching screens, the operation is seldom as smooth as doing it without wearing gloves. The gloves will also eventually get dirty and would have to be replaced regularly. Given these realities, contactless operations by using voice user interfaces combined with a graphical user interface are more efficient, especially during and post a pandemic.

Healthcare UX’s Future

In an ever-changing onslaught of new medical technology, you need to stay abreast of things, so it’s important to keep an eye on those trends. Designing products for the medical field comes with great responsibility. The focal point has to remain on people and their safety. First aim to provide a valuable product or service before aiming for success. Create a product or service that will add value by improving people’s lives. Although designing healthcare UX today is not only a joyride, it’s a ride worth taking.