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Client

SlicedHealth

Category

Healthcare, patient-facing, Price Transparency

My Role

Interaction Designer

Duration

June 2020 to July 2020 (~5 weeks)

Executive Summary

Sliced Health is a healthcare company that delivers AI-powered healthcare solutions to community hospitals. I was hired to design the patient-facing UI for Sliced Pricer, a product created in response to the Price Transparency Act. This allows patients to search, receive cost estimates, and make informed decisions about their treatment plan."

Challenges

  • Learn healthcare and insurance structures

  • Review Price Transparency legislation

  • Translate business requirements to UI elements

  • Design concise, actionable results for patients

  • Deliver ASAP to enter new market before competitors

What is Price Transparency?

The Price Transparency Act requires American hospitals to create, update, and publicize a list of standard charges for services and items they provide. A public portal with this information must be intuitive and easily accessible. The law was introduced on June 24th, 2019 and went into effect on January 1st, 2021.

After this legislation was introduced, SlicedHealth sought to build a patient portal based on the Price Transparency requirements. They hired me to design the UI from the ground up.

“An extra dose of transparency will bring more accountability and competition to the healthcare industry.”​

-Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. One of the bill’s co-sponsors

Benefits of Price Transparency

  • Since every US hospital must post their prices online, patients can shop for the best value.

  • Patients can make a more informed decision on their treatment plan.

  • More people will seek medical care. According to a Harris Poll commissioned by Change Healthcare in July 2020, over half of consumers avoided care because they weren't sure what it would cost.

How I Approached This Project

As the sole Interaction Designer on this project, I was responsible for creating, justifying, and sticking to a plan. To take on this monumental task, I utilized 2 established methodologies.

Design Thinking

I used the Design Thinking framework throughout this project. It's a well established, iterative approach that encourages a human-centered mindset when designing the product. 

Simple flowchart of the steps of Design Thinking

  1. Empathize

    • Understand the user's needs, behaviors, and capabilities

  2. Define

    • Use insights from empathizing to clearly define the problem to be solved

  3. Ideate

    • Generate potential solutions to the problem

  4. Prototype

    • Build a low-fidelity prototype of the best solution(s) to test and refine

  5. Test

    • Conduct usability tests to evaluate effectiveness, gather feedback, and continue refinements

 

Design Thinking is iterative, meaning that certain steps are repeated as new insights are gained and solutions are refined.

Goal-Directed Design

Design thinking is great for high-level structure, but the specific activities of each step are undefined. To supplement this framework, I used the research phase from Goal-Directed Design. The tasks include well-defined questions that helped me establish context and business requirements. I conducted:

  • Kickoff meeting

  • Audit of existing software and competitor products

  • Stakeholder interviews

  • User interviews

Due to the speed of this project and my other responsibilities, I was unable to use the entire Goal Directed Design process. To see that entire methodology in action, see my time management app project here.​

Kickoff Meeting & Stakeholder Interview

A kickoff meeting is necessary to build rapport and establish a shared vision for the project. For this job, it was especially important because of the domain complexity and compressed timeline. 

Stakeholders
My primary stakeholder is Chief Product Officer and co-founder Reese Walker. Reese is a subject matter expert on how to best support patient access, billing, and collection operations for a hospital. The second stakeholder was my dad, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Reed Liggin. Despite our family connection, he was rarely involved in the process.

 

Findings
This kickoff meeting and subsequent feedback sessions were all conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. I condensed the most significant findings below:

What is the product?

The product is an online interface that anyone can use to look up a medical item or service and see the estimated price for a variety of payment methods. 

Who will use it?

Reese predicted that family heads and young adults will be the primary user populations. Elderly patients will also greatly benefit if the system is accessible and useful to their distinct needs.

What do your users need most?

Quick access to an accurate, understandable estimate of their upcoming medical procedure, item, or service bill.

Which customers and users are the most important to the business?

Community hospitals with more than 200 beds are some of the most important customers because that is the target market for SlicedHealth. Reese stated that all end users are equally important.

What challenges do the design team and business face?

The single biggest challenge is designing an interface that can simplify a complex charge master and display costs to users without overwhelming them with medical jargon.

What literature should I review to familiarize myself with the product & business domain?

I was told to review the final rule on price transparency along with a presentation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Budget

Their cost was only my hourly wages. Regarding the schedule, I had to finish everything as quickly as possible. Price transparency tools are a relatively new market with limited competition. The quicker we could design and build a live product, the more hospitals we could sign before the legislation went into effect. Hospitals are supposed to receive civil monetary penalties of up to $300 per day if they don't have a price transparency tool. This should motivate them to quickly purchasing a product like Sliced Pricer.

Technical Constraints & Opportunities

Reese claimed that the health informatics of standard charges is not complicated compared to other medical fields. So data retrieval would not be a constraint or challenge.

Business Drivers

Important business drivers include revenue, website traffic, and the size of the customer's charge master.

Stakeholder's Perception of their Users

Reese perceived the most common users as smart but easily frustrated. This is the common prediction of user behavior and required validation.

Conclusion

This was one of my first professional projects while I was still in school. Despite my lack of experience at the time, I'm still proud of what I designed in such a short time. However, I also uncovered several blind spots in my skillset.

Lessons Learned

  • It's challenging to interpret design instructions from people not familiar with design principles

  • I struggle with information architecture and need to study it more on my own

  • Stakeholders (understandably) don't consider usability when setting business requirements

  • Healthcare is an incredibly complex field, but I love the challenge and want to pursue a career in that industry

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