Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, wearables, telehealth, and mobile health apps, are all Industry 4.0 innovations seeing a rise in application in healthcare. But they also existed pre-pandemic. Now, they are experiencing a surge of integration into healthcare in response to the conditions and needs COVID created. Today they are part of most users' lives–whether they realize it or not and are the de-facto future of medicine, meaning so is UX design.
Health 4.0 Needs UX Design to Realize its Full Potential
Ostensibly, these applied technologies promise to drive better outcomes through patient engagement, earlier diagnoses, targeted treatments, and expedited cures. However, they can only reach their full potential through the quick and widespread application of UX design. Because, for as powerful as data-driven, AI-powered healthcare is, at present, it can't consider human emotions or perspectives very well, if at all.
Healthcare Adopting Industry 4.0 Innovations
While the need for UX design in healthcare may be self-evident, the truth is– it has always lagged notoriously behind. This is partly because the applications of Industry 4.0 technologies that most require UX design were stymied by regulation, inhibition, and patient/doctor acceptance. For instance, a pre-pandemic report from The Nuffield Trust suggested the use of information technology was at least a decade behind in healthcare. In an industry suffering from a lack of adoption of basic digital technologies, UX design for these technologies lagged even further behind.
With several regulatory hurdles now behind us and patients/doctors liberated from previous inhibitions around digital health, a boom of innovation has ensued. What once looked to be a meandering merger of Industry 4.0 and Healthcare 4.0 ended up being a collision. The resulting chaos puts UX design for Healthcare technologies at risk of being overlooked or altogether ignored. On the flip side, it finally opens up a chair for product designer companies to get UX a seat at the table.
UX in Digitial Health is More Than Just UI
Since Healthcare 4.0 innovations are digital, UX is often confused with--or assigned to-- UI. It is also easy to forget that every digital product has a physical tether, and there needs to be UX around those real-world points of use too. We frequently work on user experiences around these physical medical devices and innovations at Speck Design. So we've seen the potential impact UX design has on patients and providers, just in our industrial design and engineering for the healthcare niche. Writ large, it is harder to quantify, but at the very least, UX in the healthcare industry improves patient experiences and, at its best, saves lives.
Medical Devices and Products Optimized for UX Are Safer and More Effective
Whether it is an AI-run radiology device or a wearable health tracker, designs with good UX design help prevent errors and mitigate risks. Features like clear use instructions written by a UX writer or intuitive and user-friendly buttons based on user research and feedback offer powerful ways to prevent misuse or errors by patients and especially doctors. As a rule, healthcare providers must make decisions quickly and accurately, and these decisions impact the quality and length of patients' lives.
Then there is efficiency. Time is always a factor when dealing with human health. One thing UX design does exceptionally is improve workflow efficiency. How fast or easily healthcare providers can access patient information is contingent upon how optimized the workflows are in these new digital Health 4.0 technologies. UX design on the front end of the development will determine how and how fast critical information is gathered at the point of care and beyond, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
UX Design Makes Health 4.0 Medical Devices More Usable
Usability is a critical component of any product--the proverbial holy grail of good UX design and human-centered design alike. It is where function and feelings converge, and when done right, leads to positive product/user interactions. These positive interactions are critical to ensure patient compliance with the emerging Health 4.0 technologies. Without proper compliance, data gathering, patient monitoring, medication administration, health predictions, and diagnoses risk being inaccurate and potentially even harmful. So, as patients become more "hands-on" in their treatment plans, medical devices optimized by UX research and design are more important than ever before. This will not only lead to increased patient engagement, compliance, and adoption of Health 4.0 technologies but, ultimately, better health outcomes.
UX Design For Healthcare Personalization That is Truly Personal
Every patient is unique and needs healthcare tailored to their idiosyncracies, even those suffering from the same affliction. Moreover, people are clamoring for personalized individual care. As well, they should; tailored care leads to a better quality of life for those suffering from chronic conditions and extends their lives. This potentially life-saving approach was once limited to those who could afford it.
The advent of Health 4.0 and Industry 4.0 technologies working together has the potential to open up this type of care to the masses. However, to make healthcare more personal, health 4.0 technologies must first become more patient-centered--something they have not been in the past. Leveraging the human-centered approach that UX designers, UX writers, and UX researchers take is not only the best and fastest way to make personalized healthcare happen but, one may argue, the only way. Because personalized healthcare is about meeting people where they're at--and that can only be done successfully with an in-depth understanding of users' experience.
Opportunities for UX Designers in Health 4.0
UX design has proven to be one of the most essential tools industrial, and product designers have to improve people's everyday lives. In healthcare product design, where the stakes are highest, it is and will continue to be even more critical. What's more, health-tech's star is rising. It is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. And with an expected revenue of USD 1.3 trillion in 2030, it will also be among the most profitable. As a UX designer or UX design firm, there is more up for grabs than just a seat at the table--there is also an opportunity to get a piece of a massive pie.
More nobly, UX design in Health 4.0 is a chance to define the future of healthcare innovation for generations to come. Not just the products but the experiences and interactions around them too. And that is a once-in-many-lifetimes reward.
About Speck Design
At Speck Design, we have been creating the future for 25 years, helping our clients build lasting connections with their customers through compelling and innovative product design. Our mission is simple: use design to guide our clients in creating compelling and transformative products and experiences for their customers. To learn more about our human-centered processes or our deep proficiency in medical device development for FDA approval, reach out to us to start a conversation today.