When you talk to a cancer patient or survivor who had a good experience with their doctor or hospital, that’s an incredible and often surprising thing to hear–one of the worst medical diagnoses described as easy or good. And yet, it’s not an uncommon description largely in part to the idea of putting the patient first.

We would guess that if you made a Venn diagram on cancer patients who had a positive cancer treatment experience and went to a hospital that treated them like a person, it would just be a circle.

While medical professionals have stressed the need for a “patient first” approach for years, this ethos does not always survive the jump to digital spaces. The reasons are varied: the regulations facing the healthcare industry, outdated infrastructure, aging physicians unfamiliar with modern-day systems. The list goes on and on.

However, more and more hospitals and healthcare providers are finally understanding how to deliver a better user experience by thoughtfully designing their digital spaces in a way that truly reflects their philosophy of patient care.

Modern Medicine

Ask most people working in healthcare and they’ll tell you that for years, technology and healthcare clashed. Hospitals had a Way Of Doing Things™ that often involved mountains of paperwork even long after the digital revolution modernized information. Then, when medical networks started adopting digital platforms, they often were intuitive, clunky, and a far cry from what patients were used to experiencing.

We bet you can still find patient portals that look like they were built in the 90s.

As technology has improved, hospitals and medical networks have begun to grasp that people want systems that they can understand and that work for them, not against them. This has the added benefit of massaging the information flow between patient and medical provider, as information can be shared in ways that make intuitive sense.

In other words, medical groups realized that their priority for their patients should apply to their digital portals, as well.

Technological advances and evolving design philosophy has also helped hospitals improve their systems. Companies like Hoverstate that have experience working with medical providers put empathy and the human experience first when designing these backend and frontend systems. This unlocks the potential of modern medicine: giving patients care and respect throughout every step of their healthcare experience.

Knowledge is Power

When we say that healthcare patient portals should be empathetic, what we are really saying is that they should have design features that put people first. Choosing what information and options to present to a user should be dedicated by the way that patients use these tools and their needs.

The systems we create take into consideration what patients need first and foremost. As an example, cancer patients often have to jump from specialist to specialist for lab tests, treatments, and observation – resulting in confusion, unnecessary obstacles, a mountain of tedious forms to fill, and frankly, unhealthy stress.

To address this pain point, the system we designed keeps track of patients’ scheduled appointments and what’s next for them. It empowers the patient with knowledge instead of overwhelming them with information.

Patients can fill out a form one time and that information gets shared with other providers, cutting down on the amount of busywork and repetitive information they need to share. This information is stored safely and in compliance with HIPAA. Not only does this benefit the patient, but it also makes medical professionals’ lives easier thanks to streamlining the process.

The additional benefit of designing a system for people and not spreadsheets? When facing a crisis, these systems shine and become more important than ever. For example, patients can check upcoming appointments, fill out questionnaires, sign forms online, and check-in to appointments online. With hospitals trying to keep patients from waiting in reception areas for too long, this kind of system not only makes life easier but also safer.

Healthcare for Humans

If you’re reading this and thinking, “What’s the big deal? The website that I use to order chicken wings has about as much functionality,” well, first of all, we both know that’s hyperbole.

Second of all, the healthcare industry has had a number of unique hurdles to overcome, specifically government regulations and the need for data protection–your favorite wing joint doesn’t know medical history but is probably low-key contributing to it’s future.

So yes, while some other websites deliver exceptional customer service, the fact of the matter is that most healthcare networks are only recently gaining this advanced functionality. And because of that, patients are reaping the benefits, gaining the ability to get an understanding of their treatment plans. We’ll chat about e-commerce joints like wing sites in part 2. Stay tuned.

Healthcare is about many things. It’s about getting better. Overcoming illnesses. Feeling better.

But ultimately, healthcare is about people. It’s not about filling out forms or waiting at an office for a receptionist to call your name. Thanks to systems like the ones we can create with Pega, we’re hoping to not only bring healthcare into the 21st century but to make it a better system than ever before.

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