Unlike queuing at the grocery store, the queue in hospital emergency rooms is weighted and constantly changing. We designed a solution for Mackenzie Health Hospital that keeps patients informed about their wait time.
We followed the Google Ventures Design Sprint methodology - working collaboratively to research, ideate, prototype, and validate our solution. I helped specifically with designing our survey, mapping the user flow of our product, and conducting usability tests.
First, we surveyed 50+ hospital visitors to better understand the patient experience. In order to find a solution that could seamlessly integrate with Mackenzie Health’s current patient flow, we also had to understand the constraints. Our research included familiarizing ourselves with their maps and registration process. We mapped this information, along with our survey results, onto a customer journey map to guide our ideation.
Next, my team and I conducted a How Might We exercise to select a focus for our ideation. We identified a need for reduced patient anxiety, adjusted patient perception of wait times, and improved communication between hospital staff and patients.
To kickstart our individual brainstorming, we each shared a product or feature we admired from other industries. During these lightning demos, we were especially drawn to Amazon’s Shipment Tracker, and portable WiFi devices. Next, we each rapidly generated 8 ideas, then selected one to polish in a sketch to show our team. Our team silently voted for our favourite ideas with stickers.
We considered designing a way-finding app to share patient locations with visitors, or a robot that comforted patients. Ultimately, our team voted to prototype an egg-shaped object that provided patients a countdown of their remaining wait and access to wireless internet. Once we began storyboarding the experience things started to fall apart.
Our storyboard helped us identify three major pitfalls in our current idea. First, someone would have to coordinate the assignment, collection, and sanitation of the eggs. Secondly, if a patient's wait time suddenly increased they'd likely become frustrated and may complain to hospital staff. Third, burdening patients with carrying an additional object would be unacceptable - some may have injuries or disabilities.
When we returned to the drawing board a couple things were clear. We had to find a solution that wouldn't disrupt current staff workflow, it had to communicate wait times clearly but without over-promising, and it had to be accessible to all visitors.
We began researching the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians’ (CAEP) triage implementation guidelines on levels of emergency to determine how the arrival of patients with critical injuries affects wait times. Then we had to simplify that information to communicate it to patients. As well as differentiate high-risk-high-priority patients from other patients to explain discrepancies in estimated and actual wait times. Once we had a better understanding of this we began mapping our user flow.
With our prototype in hand, we began our guerrilla usability testing. We recruited students studying digital art, biochemistry, biomedical science, and a masters student studying applied health science. This testing helped us identify opportunities to simplify our terminology, add expected interactions to the app, and clarify the concept and purpose of different parts of the interface for the second and final iteration of our product.
Our final solution integrates with hospital bracelets by adding a QR code that allows patients to access kiosk checkpoints which share their estimated total wait time and the next step in their treatment, this information can then be shared with friends and family who can use the bar code to access the information online.
We presented our concept and prototype to Mackenzie Health in May of 2018. Although our concept was not selected for implementation, my team and I were thankful for the opportunity to work with an established industry partner.