Client

SlicedHealth

Category

Healthcare, patient-facing, price transparency

My Role

Solo UX 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 a new, patient-facing UI. The product, Sliced Pricer, was created in response to the Price Transparency Act. This law requires hospitals to provide online access to pricing information for a variety of items and services they provide. 

Challenges

  • Learn about healthcare and insurance structures

  • Design around stringent legal requirements

  • Simplify healthcare concepts to be understood by the general population

  • Finishing the design asap to get it to the new market before competitors

First, 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.

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

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

  • Patients can get an estimate before agreeing to the treatment, procedure, or prescription

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

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

Goal Directed Design

Design thinking is great for high-level structure, but the specifics of each step are undefined. To supplement this framework, I used research methods from Goal Directed Design. Well-defined questions helped me establish context and business requirements. The steps are:

  • 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 complexity of healthcare. I was able to meet with stakeholders and subject matter experts to get a high-level overview of the product's purpose.

My primary stakeholder is Chief Product Officer and co-founder Reese Walker. I reported updates to him throughout the design process. 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.

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. Although price transparency would greatly benefit the elderly, it is difficult to explain the concept and show them where to find the patient portal.

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 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 have a career in that industry