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ER Now!

Check in without the waiting

Overview

ER Now! allows you to see emergency room wait times and pre-register before your visit. The goal of ER Now! is to reduce the uncertainty and stress of waiting at the ER, resulting in calmer patients.

Role and Members:

Members: 3
Role: UX/UI Designer

Duration:

10 weeks

Tools and Systems:

Tools: Adobe XD
Systems: iOs Human Interface Guidelines

Why ER Now!

Bug List

The project was born out of an exercise where we asked “what is something that bugs you?” One of my family members recently had a stressful experience at the ER, and was not satisfied with their visit. I felt this was an opportunity worth digging in and exploring further.

Exploring the Space

Our approach was to start broad and explore all possible ideas. We utilized the “Jobs to Be Done” technique to identify the important aspects of what a patient needs when going to the ER. This helped us uncover nuances of the experience we wanted to focus our design on.

Early Guiding Questions:

  • Why is this problem important?
  • How are we going to tackle this issue? 
  • What aspect of the ER waiting experience do
    we want to focus on and improve?
  • Who is the main user we want to focus on?

Market Research

According to an interview and survey study, most ER experiences are tied to a fundamental reason: a need to know. The lack in terms of “information and communication represents the essential factor determining the experience of waiting” (Vitali). Anxiety and hope are the main feelings experienced by patients. The results showed clear indications of an underlying need to improve the communication process.

Another study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information said that one important aspect of the waiting experience is helping to calm the patients. The waiting room should not increase the patients’ worries about their health. They should feel safe and reassured that they will be treated. It is important for hospital staff to listen and inform patients about how the ER works.

"There should be a goal to seek “to improve the comfort of carers, by adopting solutions such as multi-function environments with diversified spaces that would make it less burdensome to wait”
-R. Vitali.

Formulating a Hypothesis

Constraints and Scope

Given our time and resource constraints, we decided to just focus on the users’ ER experiences, not the hospital and medical staff. This helped to narrow our project goals and design.

How might we make the ER waiting experience more pleasant?
How might we leverage technology to improve the ER waiting experience?

User Research

We interviewed 7 users to learn about their experiences at the ER, including pain points, challenges, needs, and wants.

“Having the psychological stress of being there so long in conditions that are not convenient to your physical state, or others"
-Evelyn K.

“The corridors were full of people. It felt like a catastrophe movie where everyone was piling in at the same time.” -Angela K.

Insights:

Persona

Brainstorming Solutions

Affinity Mapping

Affinity mapping helped us to group our interview findings into categories.

"All the Money in the World"

If we had "all the money in the world", what solutions would we implement? This activity helped us diverge and explore more possibilities. We listed out whatever came to mind and grouped them in similar categories.

After the two brainstorming exercises, we divided our ideas into categories ranging from most radical to exciting. We wanted to explore how far our imagination can stretch in terms of coming up with solutions.

Radical

  • Partner with nearby hotels to allow patients and companions to stay. 
  • Direct recommendations or transfers to a specialist if the problem cannot be helped at the ER.
  • Engage in games or competitions with other patients while waiting at the ER. Play on tablets or in separate room.
  • Tinder for ER - search for companions to accompany you to the ER.

Rational

  • Therapy pets to play with while waiting
  • Notification system to keep track of your place in line

Exciting

  • Check in to the ER at home before you go
  • Connect virtually to a doctor or nurse to get immediate help first.  
  • Entertainment or game room

Design

As a result of our brainstorming session, we decided on 3 different prototypes to concept test with our users. The 3 ideas we went with were an app to show wait times, a wearable that would help check you in and send vitals to the nurse, and a body scanner to send vitals to the nurse.

Storyboards

Sketches

Sketches of screens for the app

Sketches of screens for the app

Sketches of screens for the wearable

Sketch for Body Scanner

The body scanner would help send full body vitals to the nurse. The machine would record body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight.

The goal of the scanner is to be a quick and non-invasive way to record important patient information for nurses and speed up the triage process.

Wearable Prototype

To concept test the wearable, we made a bracelet out of physical crafts materials. We wanted to experiment with textures, sizes, and materials for making the wearable.

Our goal was to test how our users would react to having something put on them, how it felt on their hand, how tight they wanted the band to be, etc. This helped our users feel more a part of the action and imagine the situation clearer.

Concept Testing Results

After our round of concept testing our prototypes, we decided to abandon the wearable and body scanner idea. In order to narrow down our project direction, we chose to focus on the pre-waiting room experience - finding an ER and checking wait times. We want to help the user decide the best ER to go to and have clearer expectations of waiting time.

Mid Fidelity Mocks

We developed Ami - an app that allows the user to register their personal information and search for an ER in their area. Users can view wait times and check in prior to arriving.

Usability Testing

We conducted a usability test with 5 users to test our designs. Below are some insights we received

The main takeaways were to simplify the app solution to solve the one need - check wait times. The user feedback caused us to pivot our idea.

High Fidelity Mocks

For our final design, we decided to integrate our idea as a feature within Google maps.

Key Learnings

Start Broad

The goal of this project was to start as broad as possible and explore various possibilities for a solution. Through different exercises like "All the Money in the World", affinity mapping, and the Business Model Matrix, it led us to explore a range of possibilities.

Go Beyond Traditional Prototyping

We explored prototyping with physical objects and materials. This helped us see beyond the screen and realize that you can prototype solutions with the materials around you. By allowing our users to have a tangible experience, the product felt more real.

Flip the Problem on its Head

We explored interesting ways of brainstorming solutions. One of the exercises included taking our issue and stating it in the opposite way. By seeing the waiting experience as something positive, we were able to brainstorm solutions we had not thought of before.

Solve One Problem at a Time

My group and I tackled a big topic of ER waiting experiences. There are many factors and players involved in the industry and experience. During our brainstorming sessions we realized the complexity of the problem and decided to narrow down our focus to one user group and one aspect of the waiting experience.