Online Appointment Scheduling

In 2016 none of the major Electronic Health Record vendors offered the ability for a patient to schedule an appointment online. The potential cost savings to hospitals and clinics was enormous, and the added convenience for end-users was a win-win situation. I led the user experience effort to bring this critical feature to the FollowMyHealth platform.

My Role

Booking / Scheduling Landscape

Though no other EHR company had created an online appointment booking feature, it was standard functionality to "Request an Appointment." This feature allowed users to indicate date and time preferences, which would then be sent for review to an admin, who would then actually schedule an appointment via an internal system. The admin would typically follow up via secure health message or the phone to confirm.

At the time, a few websites had started to provide services that allowed users to search for a doctor, but fell short of actually making any appointment.

I also looked into other forms of online booking. The travel industry had this down to a science by then. All travel booking sites allowed the user to add all their criteria initially, and there was no multi-step search required. After initial results appeared, the user could use filters to narrow or expand options. Zillow was also starting to enable online booking of showings. Their scheduling was designed around providing the soonest availability.

User Research

I led the creation of the personas used universally to inform the design of the FollowMyHealth patient portal, including the appointment scheduling design.

Primary Profile

Before this project, I had created and curated a set of profiles to guide design decisions anytime a new feature was needed.

For most FollowMyHealth projects, the CHO mom was the primary profile. As the primary profile, I wanted to make sure there was a lot of clarity around this user and her needs.  I facilitated extensive primary and secondary research into this archetype to build a meaningful persona to guide all future design decisions.

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Technical Limitations

Allscripts appointment scheduling relied on legacy electronic health scheduling systems. Unfortunately, updating these systems was not part of this project's scope, so I had to work around what was technically feasible. This meant the queries had to be broken up to help the system remain performant, and it meant that some steps had to happen earlier in the process to adequately narrow search results.

Appointment Phone Conversations

I documented different versions of a patient's conversation when scheduling an appointment over the phone. The patient conversations are based on each of the personas. This exercise helped determine how the steps could be broken up and how the scheduler would adjust to specific requests or needs of the patient.

Workshopping Flows

Engaging others in the team in the design process is always critical. Here, I worked with my product management and engineering partners to brainstorm different ways to approach and sequence the flow.

Measurable Usability Goals (MUGs)

Measurable Usability Goals (MUGs) were an important step in the Allscripts UCD process. These goals refer to the product’s performance in terms of interaction with the user during end-user tasks, or in providing information to the user.

In order to fully leverage MUGs, it was critical to identify, define, and record them as early on in the development process as possible. These are usability specific goals that are necessary to achieve success for the product.

Interaction Design and Wireflows

The screens below are an early version of the wireframes that would eventually be used for formative usability testing.

Usability Testing

I created highly interactive prototypes in Axure to usability test the appointment flows. The video shows the basic workflow, and the photo is of me moderating the test with a user on-site at one of our client's health systems in San Diego, California.

Moderator Guide

Below are a few pages from my moderator guide that I used to conduct the in-person formative testing.

Notes and Results

While the image below isn't specific to the appointment scheduling testing, it's from additional sessions I conducted during our visit to Sharp Healthcare to validate a proposed Information Architecture. It gives a view into how I collate data and compile notes from observers.

After a day of testing, I would facilitate a discussion with the team to understand their takeaways from the sessions and collate learnings, observations, etc.

Administrative Side

It is somewhat outside of the scope of this project sample; however, I also designed the administrative experience that would be used on the FollowMyHealth backend to configure appoints. Here is an example of an appointment detail screen.

Visual Design

The following images show final visual designs and documentation related to this flow. Note that these designs are using the updated and rebranded design language.


Examples of the mobile form factor.


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