HealthTech companies have been instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic. These companies have made medical help outside of traditional facilities more accessible, kept communities informed, collected contact-tracing data, and facilitated the recent reopening of society. Here is how healthtech companies must become more use-centric or risk failing.
In May, the UN pledged to boost HealthTech production for COVID-19. Meanwhile, the UK has announced a £1.25 billion government package for young HealthTech companies. The wave of support for the industry has spurred rapid growth and has poised HealthTech to be part of everyday life on a long-term basis.
Currently, HealthTech solutions are focusing on practicality over usability because he need to reach markets is more pressing than tailoring features and processes.
Nonetheless, to be successful, HealthTech companies have to put UX front and center. Research shows that 70 percent of customers will abandon a service that has a bad user experience.
Among a new landscape, new user behaviors, and new UX expectations, HealthTech companies that do not put users first, risk losing consumers and even failing. Here’s why:
COVID-19 has completely changed how people interact and the tools they use to maintain a sense of normality. Government-enforced quarantines have meant people are at home more, while social distancing rules limit outside physical contact.
These environmental changes are leading evolutionary changes, especially in the relationship between humans and technology.
Already, drones have been used to spray disinfectant over large urban areas, robots are delivering medical supplies, and telemedicine companies are catering to people with no insurance or high deductibles.
These new adoptions co-align with how people are turning to online services to continue their daily lives. Traditionally-offline services are now available via the internet, and so, people’s digital literacy is improving.
However, there is still a sharp gap between the tech-savvy and tech beginners.
The disparity presents a challenge for HealthTech companies that now have to provide solutions for the different user segments. They have to consider both avid users and those who are less-practiced with technology.
During the lockdown, people are online more often and for longer periods. In some parts of the world, internet usage has even gone up by 50 percent. The internet surge could mean that people are no longer browsing from their mobile phones but instead using their desktops.
The change in hardware is key to HealthTech UX, which has to be optimized for larger screens.
In the midst of such uncertainty, people want solutions that relieve, not antagonize, their fears. As a result, people are looking for ways to preserve their health via quick, accurate medical advice with limited physical contact.
For HealthTech then, UX needs to answer these new demands and develop systems that are instant, reliable, and remote.
To be a wholly trusted mode of support, HealthTech also requires empathetic, ‘human’ language, alongside engaging characteristics like animations, interactive graphs, and downloadable information.
Streaming sites are currently offering measures like collaborative watching, where people in different locations can view the same film or show at the same time.
HealthTech companies have to consider if they can harness such features and apply them to their customer journeys. For instance, people may want to join consultations together or read progress reports simultaneously.
Regardless of the pandemic, people still have a desire to connect — HealthTech has to identify if this is a core new user behavior for the future or a short-term reaction in the existing climate.
On average, a person owns eight networked devices – and that figure is expected to rise substantially within the next decade.
Wearable devices like blood pressure, sleep, and step monitors generate huge amounts of data that users want to access in a clear and digestible format.
Particularly amid and following COVID-19, people are more alert and want instant answers. HealthTech UX therefore needs to be minimalistic to effectively process numbers and calculations.
Tech-ready groups are likely to look for chatbots to get fast information, book appointments, and reduce their overall waiting time.
In telemedicine specifically, chatbots are a smart tool to keep medical professionals and patients connected, without being a huge drain on resources.
Another thing to consider is that many users anticipate that chatbots mirror the layout of bots they are already familiar with. Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are the messaging apps with the most active users in the world, so mimicking their formats would be wise.
Likewise, as voice recognition devices become more commonplace in people’s homes, HealthTech will have to adapt and establish a user flow based solely on sound. This optimization would be beneficial for multiple user segments.
Younger generations are already accustomed to voice recognition, and older generations with limited mobility would welcome movement-free instructions. Alternatively, voice recognition can aid physicians in documenting patient information.
For example, Suki is a startup that uses voice commands to help physicians create clinical notes or orders for tests and prescriptions.
As new user needs are still surfacing throughout COVID-19, HealthTech companies have to be flexible and pivot to best meet emerging UX expectations. User testing and research should be a continuous, iterative process, that balances unprecedented circumstances with heightened sensitivity toward health.
Still, in COVID-19 and the era that follows, patients are also consumers. As HealthTech accelerates, the industry will become more competitive. Companies built around customer preferences will have the most significant advantage.
By having a more user-centric approach, HealthTech will not only scale faster in the new normal and garner loyal followings but also offer greater value to people when they need it most.
Image Credit: cottonbro; Pexels
Balint Bene is the Founder and CEO of bene : studio, a digital product consultancy with a HealthTech focus, that has worked with over 100 companies in the past 10 years, such as the Volkswagen Group, Cushman & Wakefield, MediCall and Informed Health.
Balint is a serial startup founder with an enterprise background as well, having expertise in digital product management, marketing, and design. His influence can be strongly seen in bene : studio, as the company, focuses on premium quality services, business goals, strong planning, and the execution of useful, stunning, modern applications.