What Would a “Seamless Healthcare Experience” Mean to You?

Planned Parenthood redesigns a trip to the clinic from a tedious and unmemorable experience to something of safety, comfort, and positivity

As a healthcare patient I know going to the doctors is always a long and uncomfortable process. You spend forever filling out forms that repeat the same questions, you sit in an unwelcoming and bland room facing strangers, then you’re rushed through your visit and end up forgetting half the questions you needed to ask. Now as a woman specifically, I also know we have a lot of questions, concerns and responsibilities when it comes our personal health and bodies, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and confused, in addition to the already drab feeling of a trip to the clinic. Luckily, Planned Parenthood is launching a Comprehensive Patient Experience program, which addresses and solves each of these problems we all face as healthcare patients. A plan that will, over the span of 5 years, implement design solutions devised by Ideo to create a “seamless experience” that will change Planned Parenthood from a walk-in clinic to a long-term primary care center for both sexes, that goes way beyond just that first visit.

A 2013 studies from the British Medical Journal proved that patient experience is positively correlated with clinical effectiveness and patient safety. Meaning, our overall experience is clinically important, and while Planned Parenthood has been providing high quality healthcare, the patient judges their complete visit, from the room they wait in, to their customer service. Summing it up as “unmemorable” will not cut it with the competition of different health services available today. Planned Parenthood’s Vice President, Becca Karpinski stated that aside from their impeccable healthcare, the rest of the experience is not what we’d want to go through. This program’s intention is to change how patients interact with the organization, making it a more personal, private, educational and efficient experience that the patient will remember.

“The opportunity to have a seamless experience at any Planned Parenthood is just tremendous.”

Ideo’s solutions to their problem begin with the layout of their physical space, referred to as The Hub/Recovery. Instead of the institutional-looking beige walls with close seating that offers no privacy, the rooms will be divided to give a more modular appearance where you can face outward perhaps with a TV. Also, the new design includes tables with chargers and activities for kids, as well as posters for the walls outlining the many services offered by Planned Parenthood, and recovery rooms where you can relax with a loved one. Another change is digitalized forms, also known as Friendly Forms, which eliminates the problem of having to re-write the same answers on different forms such as name, birthday, etc. by using pre-populated information. In addition, the app would feature helpful graphics to speed the process, and shortening the form time would give doctors longer to actually get to know the patient. Also, what I find most unique, helpful and necessary is the app, Visit Companion, which helps guide you through the healthcare experience. The app includes features such as answers to questions, explanations of medical procedures, visuals explaining physiology, side by side comparisons of options available, symptoms and side effects, records of your appointments, and reminders for follow-ups. The implementation does not lessen conversation between the patient and doctor, but stimulates it and can be used as a tool to encourage shared decision making, enhance visits, and extend patient’s care past that initial visit.

Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president and chief experience officer says,

even the smallest changes were based on user research. “Usually it’s a lot of little improvements that make a big difference.”

Therefore, these are the solutions that we, the patients, are asking for. Health care providers were also consulted during the strategizing therefore these changes are also results of doctors’ professional opinions of what is best for us and our health. Based on the usual experience I explained in the intro, it goes without saying I am all for these changes and think they will definitely make a difference in how we feel during our entire experience at the clinic. I love the idea of being more secluded and not feeling self-conscious staring into the faces of strangers, especially if you are there for something as difficult and emotional as an abortion. Also, I know I’d personally make use of the app that lets you write questions for your doctor ahead of time, because I always write questions I have for my doctor on my phone and then I feel weird and bothersome pulling it out during an appointment. This way, it would be a routine for you and your doctor to make sure you fully understand everything and you leave satisfied and without lingering questions or confusions. I also like how the app displays different types of contraceptives with their benefits and side effects, it would have come in handy for many women like myself who never had their options explained to them and don’t want to rely on what comes up in a Google search.

Planned Parenthood is an organization with a commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Their range of services and understanding, knowledgeable and empathetic doctors makes them a crucial healthcare provider with so much to offer.

Because in five years’ time, good architecture, digital forms, and apps that guide you through your healthcare experience won’t seem radical at all — they’ll be expected.

Planned Parenthood is steps ahead in insuring they have what we, the patient, needs in order to have a Seamless Experience.