Alberta Health Services
Information Design, UX
Data from April 2016 to December 2017, indicates that the most important factors influencing patients’ Emergency Department experience in Alberta is a combination of communication with nurses and doctors. The provincial survey, that had a total of 25,915 respondents, identifies barriers in communication between staff and patients affects the overall Emergency Department process.
To improve the patient experience in Emergency Departments in Alberta, we’ve developed a growing team of health care professionals, Information Designers, and Human Factors specialists to design solutions for this province-wide initiative.
With the patient at centre of this project, our first step was to observe users in the Emergency Department setting. By observing patients and staff in the Emergency Department, we started to establish patterns of user flows and interactions between the public and staff. We then conducted two focus groups, one with only patients and another with both patients and staff, where we uncovered common issues experienced in the Emergency Department process, information gaps, user needs, and possible solution landscapes. During our research phase we’ve also conducted patient phone interviews, analysed case studies and reviewed literature.
We uncovered that the biggest issue that impacts user and staff experience in Emergency Departments is communication.
Our user research indicated that developing communication materials can improve both patient experience and staff experience in their workplace.
Site audits and patient data indicated a need for a map of the Emergency Department to help both patients and staff navigate a newly renovated space. I designed a public-facing map of the Emergency Department in collaboration with staff who provided constant feedback on accuracy of the design. This was the first part of the wayfinding system that is currently being developed.
Our user research also indicated that patients don’t know what the Emergency Room process looks like and find themselves overwhelmed when they first enter the space. This was echoed by staff reposting that patients continuously seek information about “what happens next” but that they don’t have the time to communicate next steps to their patients. To address this problem, we are developing a process map to be placed in the Emergency Department to inform patients on what they can expect as they move through their visit in the Emergency Department. This process map is part of the larger wayfinding system that is being constructed.
Our research showed a common theme: patients need more information about the Emergency Department process, wait times, and who they will interact with during their visit. One would think that patients want wait times to improve, but what we learned was that if they had more information about what to expect when they first walk into the room and as they move through their journey, their anxiety and frustrations would be greatly reduced.