Transforming the Digital Experience in Health: Blog

Written by Natalia Bus | 27th July 2022


Transforming the digital experience in health: the new opportunities for digital experiences

In the latest Lab Leaders episode, Faye is joined by Ben Ireland, Chief Experience Officer at UNLIMITED. Ben’s responsible for strategic direction, delivering digital experiences across our clients, and has 30 years’ experience designing for humans.

Faye speaks to Ben about translating human understanding into digital experiences that help users get the most out of products and services, specifically in the health industry.


What are some of the key trends and opportunities in digital health at the moment?

One interesting trend is performance medicine, which is healthcare professionals dedicated to the performance of CEOs, making sure they don’t get sick and that their brains are working optimally. The differences between private healthcare like this and public healthcare given in care homes for example, are stark.

Then there’s wearable tech like smart watches and Oura Rings that focus on data driven self-diagnosis and sharing data with GPs. I think that while the technology is available, it isn’t universally accessible and that isn’t down to budget restraints, it’s because the basics of how budgets are used are wrong in lots of places.


How do brands look at that and where do they start if they want to transform?

Broadly speaking there are two angles: how to develop the business to become more efficient and cost effective, and how to give the customer a better product.

I look at the internal and external efficiencies we can achieve for businesses and consumers, whether it’s internal workflows like booking a GP appointment or administering care through a care plan, or external aspects like usability for users.

Usually, it’s a case of cost reduction for the business and scope to innovate, making everything more efficient using intelligent technology. There are lots of opportunities here, with using wearable tech to detect high blood pressure and scheduling check-ups being one example.


How do you as Chief Experience Officer help brands understand what “good” looks like for them and their users?

Ideas are important, but strategy makes everything work.

It’s about finding a balance between business objectives and efficiency for the user, which boils down to a process we call value driven strategy. This enables us to understand where value sits in the transformational process and how value is perceived by the customer. Next, we look at the business side to boost efficiency and save costs.

The third part is the cost and whether it’s feasible, finding that sweet spot of affordable delivery that achieves maximum value for the business and customer.


You’ve recently worked with Cera, can you tell us about what they do with some real-world examples?

Cera is a digital healthcare company using incredible technology to match patients with carers in a highly efficient way. In fact, the technology is so advanced that I’d say Cera are more of a technology company who happen to work in healthcare.

We worked with Cera in 2019 to develop their mobile apps for carers, and there were several problems which called for bringing together value driven strategy and human understanding.

In the UK, care is generally administered through your GP, with a loved one receiving a care plan that’s acted upon by care workers. These care workers then write a report and submit it to the company they work for, which is fed back to the family. That may sound fine, but the time it takes for families to receive reports is often 20 days or more, which isn’t very useful. This was a key issue for Cera, alongside the struggle of onboarding staff because of a lack of care resource in the UK. Operational costs were also high and Cera’s acquisition strategies were quite aggressive, obtaining care businesses and taking on their staff and their work all at once.

Through drilling down into the data and really understanding the needs of the business, the carers, the people being treated, and their families, we developed a single application for carers. It allowed them to maintain their schedules and care plans and access all information required to do their jobs, with built-in scheduling and live location check-ins to name just a couple of features.

Family members could also log in to see when the carer arrived and what they did, which is much more dynamic and reassuring for loved ones.


What were the results?

  • Reporting days came down from 20 days to 6 hours
  • Carers could go from five to six visits a day
  • It also meant boosting revenue by £23 million

In addition to the value driven strategy piece, we also:

  • Supported six business acquisitions for Cera amounting to a £30 million revenue increase
  • Reduced recruitment, training, and onboarding costs by around £6 million a year
  • Created a digital recruitment platform, reducing costs for online learning by around £1.5 million a year

All of these are very human upsides, but also business-facing, which is what we achieve through human understanding and value driven strategy.


Does the complexity differ for B2B and B2C? What are the similarities and differences?

It always comes down to context of use, and we’ve got to think about all the people who might be involved. In health, there’s often very complex machinery involved that requires a person to use and set up, making sure it’s in the right position and that the patient is correctly placed. X-rays for example need two people in the room, so we need to account for that and make it all happen, considering the requirements of everyone with every aspect.

Our Human Understanding Lab helps us understand this context of use, and the emotions and needs of everybody involved.


Are any problems too difficult to solve for brands in digital health?

I don’t think so, it’s more about being realistic.

Budget constraints can hold you back and sometimes the technology isn’t quite there, but by answering the needs of the business and the customer, following the value and strategy processes, ideation processes, and human understanding processes we have, we can generally improve a situation.


What message would you give to digital leaders about how you could help?

By digging deeply with analytics and using a strong value and strategy approach, we can understand what your business needs are. With the human understanding angle, we can also recognise where human emotions, needs and motivations should work within the process.

For digital leaders, start by gathering as much information as possible about where the business wants to go, why, what the customers seek and why their desires exist in that way, and get under the skin of the problem. When we get to that point, we find ideation more successful. Then, it’s about sourcing the budget to fund it.


Interested in more?

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