Provider satisfaction with any EHR often rests on the ability to personalize and accelerate their particular workflows. That personalization, and all the other customizations that help make a practice efficient, usually rests on the shoulders of an EHR administrator who is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the system.
As a product organization, we spend a lot of energy on improving the experience of providers and staff. But we also knew that if the features we created to enhance their experience could not be configured effectively, we would still be missing opportunities to improve provider experience. And we needed to better understand the full breadth of things competing for the admins’ attention and bandwidth, which might stand in the way of their ability to optimally customize the system.
How might we increase the likelihood that features requiring configuration - those we know have potential to improve provider satisfaction - are adopted?
As an experience designer, the plight of those who have to maintain the system has long been a keen interest of mine. In fact, during my previous life as a site creator and advocate for design in the Drupal community, I even wrote a series of books for O'Reilly aimed at site builders, and I often gave presentations on the need to improve site builder and content admin experience. By the time I was approached to take on this work, I had already observed several ways in which configuration experiences could make an administrator’s life more difficult, and I put together a research plan that would help us understand:
The full research effort combined data from previous efforts to look at configuration experiences, combined with about a dozen interviews with EHR admins across a variety of practice sizes and specialties. To help broaden the reach of this work early on and get some help with analysis, I also invited designers from across the business to help listen in on the interviews and take notes.
The initial output of this research identified three specific personas that came into play during the lifecycle of a client’s experience with the EHR:
These personas interacted within a handful of "critical moments" I was able to identify and map each persona’s role in. Two of these moments - preparing for a release and adding/removing providers from the system - I was able to flesh out more detail around, and frame specific challenges within each moment that had potential to interfere with feature adoption decisions.
All this was represented in two key artifacts:
Over the next several months, this work was socialized across multiple areas of the business, including our client-facing teams and the folks who prepped training content for releases. Teams across R&D started referring to the personas and principles as they created new and updated configuration experiences, and they added their research to the growing body of wisdom around Wendy’s experiences - and configuration more broadly. Outside R&D, this research also catalyzed a handful of important changes to various components of our release process:
Since this research was completed, leadership in Clinicals has continued to beat the drum of creating better configuration experiences, and created a 2022 OKR and cross-functional initiative to define what optimal configuration of Clinicals looks like, with a plan to improve various aspects of how we configure and deploy the product across specialties. I have been leading this initiative with Megan Patterson from Clinicals Product Strategy spring 2022, which has allowed us to mobilize partners from across the business to help us envision and create what a better future looks like.
l was also able to contribute to an R&D hackathon project in Summer 2021, which resulted in a React framework for admin pages that has best practices baked into it, based on my initial research into configuration experience. The project won two separate Hackathon awards: “Most Useful” and "People's Choice," and was picked up by our Design Systems team. In July 2022, I started working on an initiative with folks across R&D to align on interaction standards for admin experiences and incorporate them into the framework. The goal of this work is to make it easier for teams to deploy effective configuration experiences across the application - including rebuilding old and outdated pages in the new framework.