Virtumedix is a cross-platform virtual medicine product for clinics, insurance companies, pharmaceutical trials, pharmacies, and institutions.
As the UX/UI design lead and information architect, I worked with Aliso Viejo, California's product and engineering teams. My job was to design a scheduling component for the application while improving the application's overall usability across all platforms.
After taking ownership of the Virtumedix UX in late 2016, I worked with the product, engineering, and sales team leads to upgrade the UI and design a new foundation for scheduling appointments into the system.
The existing UX framework at the time was not consistent across platforms. Nor did it align with expected patient experiences. The framework needed customization to make it more user-friendly.
The old framework and style guide
For Virtumedix to move forward, it needed a new user-friendly cross-platform design system for the white-label customers. We created the following design system for the current version, with a design language that could serve as the foundation for new features.
To optimize the process, I documented all platforms in their current states and defined what would receive the new design. We reviewed with the key stakeholders and completed the needed work to determine the style and deliver in 6 weeks.
I created master UX Design files for all design pattern documentation and color systems. We shared online prototypes internally via Jira feature stories. We shared in-app elements with the developers via Github.
We started with an undefined Scheduling feature request that might significantly impact the overall application experience. First, I wanted to understand what features the scheduling component required to be effective for the user.
I soon learned that specialists require scheduling and that generalists do not. Our primary goal thus became matching available specialists to the patient. A secondary objective would allow patients to search for their generalist doctor by name.
Here I discovered the complexities of 3rd party scheduling components.
3rd party scheduling systems for patients were complex and inflexible. They did not match the patient experience we were creating.
To understand specialist availability, I familiarized myself with some of the doctor groups' scheduling systems at the time. All were complex, expensive, and highly customized for each physician group. We quickly determined this was outside of our objective scope. Instead, we would build a solution that worked for all our physician groups.
Doctor On Demand Discoveries
Pros - threats
• Massive funding: $75MM+
• See a medial doctor now option (like Virtumedix)
• Building framework and foundation for more significant businesses (with more doctors and groups)
• Relationships with major health companies
• Major Group Types in one app: Medical, Mental, Pediatrics, Pregnancy & Newborns
Cons - can we improve upon
• One-Size-Fits All App not congruent with diverse medial groups and practices.
• Not enough local doctors to fill the calendar or queue.
• See a Doctor Now / Schedule Appointment flow had a long questionnaire.
• FREE Chat did not connect with a doctor.
• Press, Media, Blog, FAQ, About are not necessary in an app.
• No cash option. Required an insurance provider account
Though well funded with scheduling components, our competitors were not doing scheduling well at the time. Neither Doctor On Demand, nor Teledoc, made the process easy to use.
This competitive analysis helped me understand our potential competitive advantage: Scheduling a Specialist Quickly and Easily.
A: Clear departure and destination and date
B: Available times
C: Search, then Book based on available results.
Note: If users could not act on the results offered, the option to revise the search is presented consistently as an orange "Search" button on the results page, like on the start page.
Similarities and differences
A: High-cost future, potentially stressful "appointments."
B: Requires decisive action by the user.
C: Fulfill a custom need (destination/time or specialist/availability)
A: Airlines tend to book further in advance.
B: Airlines require departure, destination, date, and "Search."
C: Specialists require specialty, patient state (i.e., CA, TX), and "Search."
Seeing such potentially a complex scheduling feature, like booking flights, executed so easily made the idea of scheduling a physician seem like a walk in the park!
Initially, the physician groups requested that we begin by show patients a two-month availability schedule for each specialist. The request was understood, designed, and tested for understanding.
Here is what we learned:
• Monthly-calendar views led to decision fatigue
• Booking more than a few days in the future was not the goal.
• Users wanted to see a doctor of their choosing "ASAP."
• The large calendar confused users. "Does this connect to my computer calendar?"
• Users described telemedicine as a "fallback" to visiting their doctor in their office.
The new design created a bias toward action. Patients could find a specialist, a time, and book it with just a few clicks.
The whole system was easy to diagram for the engineering team.
With a solid concept, I set about prototyping the whole system. I then leveraged the knowledge and experience of our QA teams. They were very good at finding obstacles and inconsistencies with the existing system.
I then began prototype testing with users in different parts of our office. All of these real-world users found the prototype very easy to use. They liked the direct action, reduced options. Each had experience booking doctors on the systems of our larger competitors. Since the process was simple, user testing was often brief.
Scheduling a specialist is now simple for patients. What took dozens of clicks in our competitors' apps now took six to ten on Virtumedix. Also, our scope reduction sped up the release date by several months. Patients of all ages found it easy to book and see a doctor.
Business outcomes: Corporate conducted an outside Business review. Virtumedix came in as the #1 in the industry for ease of use and speed in scheduling a doctor appointment. Based on the final scheduling version, six new clinics purchased white-label versions of the system over the next eight months.
We attempted to begin with a calendar that created relatedness to a user's calendaring software in early iterations.
While testing our prototypes, we found that simplified design often goes hand in hand with obvious and straightforward terminology and minimal instruction—users in testing scheduled appointments more quickly when the flow supports it. Options tended to interrupt this bias and, at times, lead to abandonment.
Being responsible for crafting functional systems from scratch reminds me that ongoing research, reductive thinking, and questioning the details through the process are essential. Listening to users and watching what they do lead us to the final design solution.