Introducing the new Collective Health app

How I spent a year getting all the details right

Introduction

At Collective Health, we believe everyone deserves better healthcare. And to be honest, this is no easy feat given the staggering complexity of the American health care system. This is why we combine helpful member advocates with thoughtful self-service tools —such as our app— to deliver on this ambitious promise.

As the lead designer on our Mobile team, I have spent 2018 updating every part of the app to reduce confusion and empower our members to navigate health care with confidence. Today, I am proud to present you with the new Collective Health app. Here’s what it took to make it happen.

Research

We started by researching our member’s experience with the app, as well as health care in general. With the help of Courtney Owyang, our talented design researcher, we interviewed a dozen members for an hour each. This resulted in walls of insights that we diligently sifted through in search of patterns and larger themes, such as:

  • The digital cards are the main reason for downloading the app
    But not all providers are comfortable with the table layout we were using to present the card information, as they’re familiar with the physical card.
  • Members are often unaware of all the benefits they have
    While some members idly browse their plans to discover their benefits, most were unaware of their complimentary Benefits+ like One Medical.
  • Members tend to use our web portal to find a new doctor
    The main reasons were the increased real-estate of the web, and the ability to open parallel tabs to look up reviews of providers they are considering.
  • Members are often unsure what to do with their benefit statements
    Especially the Total Amount shown on the statement left our members unsure whether any further action or payment was still needed.
  • None of our members knew they could submit claims through the app
    The app’s camera makes it quite easy to submit claims from their phone, but it was clear the discoverability of that feature was low.
Synthesis workshop with the mobile team

Goals

Having gained deep empathy and understanding of our member’s experience, we began to identify opportunities in the app. Right away, we knew that education would play a big role in this redesign.

I didn’t just want to help members understand and navigate health care, I also wanted the app to address the myriad of questions our members had along the way. Improving our members’ ability to self-serve is of course critical to Collective Health’s success as we scale our business.

Visually, I was eager to introduce a more cohesive design language that was not just visually spacious and brighter, but also more accessible in our choice of typography.


Cards

The first thing we did was change our use of photography. At the time, the app made heavy use of fullscreen portraits upon which content was overlaid. The practice of sticking content on top of people always struck me as incongruous with our human-centered values at Collective Health, so it was an easy decision for me to switch to photographic headers instead.

In the first version of our app, we presented all the card information in a table layout, which we thought would be easier to read for receptionists at doctor’s offices. However, we discovered in guerilla research that receptionists actually prefer the physical card, as it reassured them that all the necessary card information was accounted for. In other words, the table couldn’t be trusted to be complete and accurate.

Medical cards, like passports and other artefacts of trust, matter as much in form as they do in content

In the end, decided to keep both table and digital render of the physical card. While the render works better for providers, we know that a table is vital for accessibility, whether a member is visually-impaired, or simply needing to copy a subscriber ID and paste it into an email.


Plans

We got a lot of positive feedback on our plan section, but people consistently seemed to miss their Benefits+. These are additional services (provided by such third-parties as One Medical) that employers offer employees to complement their coverage.

Together with Catherine Wang, we designed a new landing page for Plans where Benefits+ could be featured at the same level as a member’s Medical, Dental and Vision coverage.


Get Care

This is one of the features I completely overhauled in the redesign. Usability testing had shown that the original flow was confusing with its 3 search fields. Browsing results on the map required you poke each pin, and doctor’s pages didn’t handle the variance in profile information very gracefully.

However, by the time I was done cleaning up the flow and UI, I realized that the real opportunity here was to develop the educational component of Get Care. Simplifying the designs and adding Yelp reviews was a welcome improvement, but what our members needed most was the necessary instruction to safely and confidently navigate the traps that hide in the fine prints of the American healthcare system.

Note: I wrote a separate case study just for Get Care. You can read it here.


Activity

Our members had no idea they could submit a claim from the app, so I moved the feature from an (admittedly cryptic) icon to a clearly labeled button.

Next, I updated the accumulators at the top to display the family’s deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums side by side with the member’s individual ones. This enabled us to better communicate which ones were met first, and give our members more context as to their interplay.

The biggest win in Activity, however, was a small but powerful piece of education. Our research showed members were often unsure how to interpret a Medical Statement’s total amount, and whether any action was required. To address this confusion, we added a small message below the total clarifying this is the amount we anticipate their providers has, or will charge them, and to give us a call if the provider’s bill ends up being higher.


Help Center

You would think that having Member Advocates on call who pick up the phone in 30 seconds or less is a slam dunk experience for our members, but the picture that our research painted was more nuanced than that. The reality is it can be hard for our members to find the requisite time and privacy to make that phone call, and even more so in today’s open office layouts.

Looking at the data, we identified a large set of recurring inquiries that a help center could easily address within our apps. From there on, the bulk of the work befell upon our amazing copywriters Alicia Ostarello and Melody Burdette to sort and write answers to our members’ most common questions.


Next steps

As proud as I am of this new version of the app, I’m of course already planning for what’s next. Here are the 3 biggest opportunities I see moving forward:

  • Design Language System
    Now that the app looks and feels consistent from the Cards to the Help Center, it’s time to codify this design into a language system of reusable components that will drastically increase our development speed.
  • Expand our help material
    Help center was a great step forward, but our work here has only just begun. On one hand, we’ll pour over the data to continuously refine and grow our library of questions and answers. At the same time, I see us taking all of that Help Center goodness and distributing it across the app to give our members even more contextual help right where they need it.
  • Move towards universal search
    Having cleaned up and organized the entire app’s content, I believe the next big win will come from enabling our members to retrieve it all through search. The future is a member typing in “lower back pain” and getting an overview of recommended care options, their corresponding coverage, previous care visits, and related help center articles all at once.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks goes to the Mobile Product Managers extraordinaires Nirav Patel and Ashley Chang · The mobile engineers who pushed for excellence Abhishek Savant, Alice Hyun, Vadim Maximov, Ashish Subedy · Tireless QA Engineers Indumathy Kesavan and Helio da Rocha Junior · My fellow product designers Casey Kawahara, Jessica Bronson and Catherine Wang · Our relentless copywriters Melody Burdette and Alicia Ostarello · The excellent legal product counselors Sai Jahann and Shauna Kashyap · Design research powerhouse Courtney Owyang · And many more talented colleagues at Collective Health who contributed their time and knowledge to this redesign.