“Find A Doctor” — solving the problem of discoverability

I have chosen to work on “Medical” as the theme for my first project. It is of personal interest because I have not come across any app that is exciting in this space and also because it is an up and coming topic among the increasingly health-conscious population.

Figuring out the problem

To start off my project, I brainstormed and came up with some personal assumptions of the pain-points that I hope will guide my course of inquiry.

  1. It is tedious to locate a clinic that is open.
  2. Users tend to visit ONE doctor (family doctor).
  3. It is difficult to find a trusted doctor in an unfamiliar location.
  4. For more sensitive issues, knowing the gender of the doctor at the clinic before visiting is very important.

With these assumptions in mind, I crafted a set of questions designed to elicit responses from users that I would then recruit. Each of the questions aimed to guide users to share more about their personal medical experiences.

  1. When do you visit the doctor?
    (to check if visits are ad hoc or routine)
  2. Do you have a preferred doctor? (i.e. family doctor)
    (to elicit sentiment of loyalty & to understand habits)
  3. When you are in an unfamiliar area and you fell sick, how do you decide which doctor/clinic to visit?
    (to check what factors affect their choice of clinics)
  4. What would affect your choice of doctors/clinics?
    (to gain more insight into the factors affecting their choice)

I gathered 3 users between the ages of 20–35 and did user interviews with them. They were each asked a variation of the above questions based on the flow of the interview.

User interview with Pooja
User interview with Annusia
User interview with Patsy

After the interviews and before I did any formal analysis of the results, I felt overwhelmed. My users were really helpful and they shared many personal stories with me. I felt as though I understood their motivations and pains more but at the same time, the mountain of information I had collected was daunting.

I sat down and reevaluated the personal assumptions that I had started out with. Even at this initial stage, it was clear that these personal assumptions were problematic and not real problems faced by users.

  1. It is not tedious to locate a clinic that is open.
  2. Users do not have a preferred doctor.
  3. It is difficult to find a doctor in an unfamiliar location. There is not much concern about the trustworthiness of the doctors visited.
  4. For treatments requiring a specialist, users have more complex requirements, one that would require an entire new set of interview questions to uncover.

Before jumping to conclusions, I took a step back and faced my fears. It is time to figure out the data gathered to understand what users are really telling me.

Making sense of the data

Sifting through all the conversations with my users, I picked out the main points and wrote them on post-its. Each user’s feedback is represented by a different post-it colour. I then did an affinity mapping exercise to analyse the data.

Noteworthy points gathered from user interviews

I started grouping the similar responses into clusters and ended up with 5 groups.

Group 1 (left) and Group 2 (right)
Group 3
Group 4
Group 5

The findings can be easily written into the following statements corresponding to the groups labelled above:

  1. When choosing a doctor to visit, I check that it belongs on the panel of doctors covered by my medical insurance.
  2. If a panel doctor is not available, I choose public healthcare because it is cheaper & more reliable.
  3. Besides the occasional flu, I also visit the doctor for my medical check-ups.
  4. When I am visiting a new clinic, I am concerned about:
    1. wait time
    2. reputation
    3. physical appearance of clinic
    4. availability of female doctors
  5. I rely on the recommendations of my friends & those I deem trustworthy for more complex medical issues.

I have chosen to focus on points 1&4. Mainly because they both pertain to the problem of discoverability, which is a common pain point across all 3 users.

From the statements, I am able to craft the following user stories.

  • As a user, I want to be able to find a clinic that is covered by my medical insurance.
  • As a user, I want to be able to filter and select a clinic based on a set of criteria.
  • As a user, I want to be able to make an appointment to save on wait time.

Working towards a solution

To help me work out the user experience of the app I am about to create, I did 3 things.

Firstly, I mapped out the user flow to understand the interaction points a potential user would have when using the app.

Secondly, to exemplify the usefulness of the app, I put myself into the shoes of a user and came up with a potential scenario that would happen, following along the user journey of an app user.

Finally, I looked at what apps/current solutions there are already available on the market to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, with the intention to identify the USP (unique selling point) of my app.

User flow for “Find A Doctor” app
User journey (iteration 2)

I think this exercise is very useful because it helps define the target audience and also helps identify the emotional journey (the highs and the lows) as well as contextual elements (where is the user, when is the user using the app).

On market currently

  • https://www.docdoc.sg/ — very similar in concept (in terms of discoverability), no native mobile app (mobile first society, easier if users need not remember the url each time they need to find a doctor), includes specialists, recently received seed funding of US$8.7M.
  • http://www.whatclinic.com/ — very similar in concept (in terms of discoverability), no native mobile app, very limited number of clinics available in search
  • miHealthCare — app and browser versions, for polyclinics and hospitals only, no built-in navigation system, allow for appointment booking, looks and feels rudimentary

Creating the prototype

It is now time to put all the information together to create an app that will solve real user problems.

In the ideation phase, I roughly sketched out the main pages as a way of visualising how elements on the page would be placed in relation to one another. After deciding that, I went on to create my first prototype.

My first prototype was rough and mostly ugly but I was more worried about the experience using it. I managed to recruit 2 users to test out the app and received really valuable feedback.

Prototype testing with Chloe
Prototype testing with Shu Mei

Giving the testers a task of finding a preferred clinic and making an appointment allowed me to observe them while they tap through the app.

Observing their actions and noting down their feedback really helped me refine my app. Here are some things that I changed:

  1. The welcome screen is being removed because it does not serve any real purpose and only confused users.
  2. I needed to add in the “Get Directions” screen to complete the entire user flow and leaving it out feels like something’s missing.
  3. Filters were increased to better address the user stories I have written.

The final product

My 2nd iteration of the app “Find A Doctor” can be found here. Besides being of higher fidelity, I made sure that design is deliberate and in line with the findings of my user interviews.

Main concerns gathered from user interviews that have to be incorporated into the app

“Proximity” — a map view is incorporated for visual users and the distance is also clearly indicated in the list view version

Proximity

“Appearance” — photos of the clinic is included in the listings

Appearance

“Insurance” — logging in to the app ensures that the clinics shown would by default be those that are included on the panel of doctors.

Insurance

“Time” — allowing users to book an appointment prevents uncertainty in the wait time at the clinic chosen

Time

“Find A Doctor” is an app that solves the discoverability problem and is conceptualised based off of a real user problem. I am proud of what I have created and I’m very pleased with the journey I have undertaken to arrive at this final app. The only question left to ask is “what’s next”?

Moving forward

Of course this is not the end. While there is a final working prototype of the app “Find A Doctor”, there are still other aspects of the app that have not been worked on. There is much potential in the app and I thought of some areas worthy to explore.

  • The on-boarding experience

This is an app that requires the user’s input to work optimally. Encouraging users to sign up for an account may be faced with some friction. The USP of the app has to be clearly communicated.

  • Booking an appointment

The clinics that are providing the option to book an appointment would have to cooperate and approve appointments for the system to work perfectly. This might be an implementation problem to get the buy-in from the clinics.

  • Feasibility

To pitch this app idea to insurance companies selling insurance plans — motivation: selling a better experience to their customers (locating clinic when they most need it)

OR

To charge users a nominal fee — pay small amount upfront to potentially save large amount off medical bills

  • Integration with HR system for processing of claims

A seamless system that allows the user to complete all steps required would be far valuable to the end user and the corporation.


Please do feel free to leave me your thoughts or any feedback. I’m still learning and I appreciate any help along the way!

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