Hillerød Hospital invited the Interaction Design Programme students to conduct design research on various aspects of the patient experience, particular the interactions among patients and their care providers.

Hospitals are information-rich environments. Care providers consume and create vast amounts of data on patient care every day. The accuracy and ready availability of this information determines the quality and speed of care delivery. Recent activities to transfer paper files to digital patient records are just one example of efforts to improve information management efficiency and accuracy.

While care providers deal with information overload, patients often experience things quite differently. For many patients and their families, hospital stays and in-home care following release can be bewildering and disorienting. Information and care advice is often provided when patients are least capable of understanding or acting on the guidance.

In-hospital way-finding systems tend to be optimised for experienced system users (care providers), but are opaque and confusing to the newcomer (patients and their families). Patients are often left wondering “What happens next?”

Our challenge was to understand the needs of hospital patients before, during and after their hospital visits. We examined how patents interact with care providers to navigate the healthcare system and access information to support their care and recovery. We looked primarily at the experiences of hospital patients and supplement that learning with interviews and observations with care providers.

We envisioned that the following issues would arise during our field research:

Privacy: Maintaining the confidentiality of patient records is a preoccupation with healthcare providers. How do patients feel about privacy? What are patient preferences for how their information is shared and used? What safeguards are too much?

Reliability: Information to support patients throughout the entire care journey will need to be reliable and accurate. What are patient expectations around reliability? How will patients gain assurance that the advice or information they are getting is accurate?

Efficiency: Hospital administrators will primarily look for solutions that increase efficiency. What information and/or care support can be provided without overloading current systems? What redundancies in the system can we identify and eliminate?

User-friendliness: As researchers, we needed to be aware of a wide-range of potential system users, many of whom may have limited competence or comfort levels with digital interfaces, etc. What types of users have the greater need for ongoing support and advice? What types of information delivery is most natural and comfortable for them? What elements of their daily lives can we leverage most easily?

Expected Class Outcomes
From the field research, students were expected to synthesise a number of key user insights and experience maps, which illustrated identified challenges and pointed towards potential directions for improving healthcare interaction.