Patient First

A user experience research case study conducted to identify areas of improvement within the Canadian Healthcare System




Project Overview

This UX Research Project was one that came with a few notables in order to complete it within a 3-week timeframe.


UX Designer


InVision, POP, Sketch, Zoom, Microsoft Office

Time Frame

3 Weeks 


  • Must recruit candidates that meet research criteria

  •  Time frame of 3 weeks from discover + research to handoff

  • Fully Remote

The Design Process

The “Double Diamond” strategy helps bring structures to the problem-solution cycle, making it easier to define problem and identify solutions. The first step in discovery was conducting research. Then to define the problem space I interviewed some users and created user persona to best capture the user perspective. The next step in the process is to then create a problem statement to target the solution.



Discovering the Problem Space

After conducting a thorough secondary research plan, the following areas of the problem space in Canada’s Healthcare system were discovered.

Current State:

  •  Canadians are unaware of how much healthcare expenses as a whole costs and any ways to offset these costs

Future State:

  • To identify  and redesign key areas of improvement for the Canadian patients with the many existing knowledge gaps as to what portions of healthcare are their responsibility.

Validation Through Research

Noted below are some key findings for this problem space


“Few patients are confident they can afford an expensive medical bill, as high out-of- pocket healthcare costs continue to be a cause for patient concern, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund.”


“Hidden Canadian Healthcare Costs- Canada’s universal healthcare system doesn’t offer universal drug coverage. Only about one-third of the population is eligible for government drug programs in Canada — the rest pay cash or have private insurance.”


“Many cancer patients don’t realize that chemotherapy may only be covered if it’s performed in a hospital—if you opt to take it in pill form, either for convenience or due to an aversion to needles, you may have to pay up to thousands of dollars per week.”

-Oma Insurance

Hypothesis and Assumptions



The purpose of conducting my research is to prove my hypothesis-Peripheral healthcare costs consistently surprise and disappoint working Canadians. I will prove this to be true through my interviews with professional working Canadians who have access to and have utilized private insurance and that the included assumptions are true.


  • Canadians have paid out of pocket costs for a portion of their prescriptions and medical procedures

  • They are unaware of what costs are their responsibility.

  • They needed to plan for unexpected medical procedures, due to lack of full coverage

How might we address the knowledge gap Canadians have for unexpected medical costs so that they can plan for the future and be financially prepared?

Research Objectives

  • To prove my assumptions  to be true or untrue

  • To understand a patient’s  pain points and view  opportunities for a  potential solution

  • To view if my hypothesis  can be proven true or  untrue

Research Methods

  • Virtual User Interviews

  • Recruitment Method-  Network through  connections and phone call

  • Schedule of Interviews: Friday August 28, 2020; interviews from 7pm-11:45pm


Participant Criteria

  • Current working professional in Canada

  • Access to private insurance

  • Had undergone a medical procedure within the last five years.  

  • Can be interviewed via  zoom or phone call

  • Able to schedule 20-30  minutes for interview

“Canadians are in constant  search for a resource to help  them plan out their medical and  financial needs simultaneously.”

“Patients needed to plan for  unexpected medical  procedures, due to lack of full  coverage.”


Almost all procedures result in the patient paying out of  pocket to some extent

There exist many areas of  improvement for the patient  experience, ranging from  unanticipated payments and  lack of coverage to general lack  of knowledge and issues onboarding patients

Despite the above findings, there is still a generally  positive reputation of Canadian healthcare.



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Establishing Epics from User Stories

In order to establish what tasks a user like Maryam would find the most value in for this app, user stories of what she would hope to accomplish were created. Once all possible options were noted, they were then grouped into categories called “Epics” to decipher between which choices would add the best value to her.


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Identifying the Key Epic –  Financially Planning for  Healthcare Procedures



It was made clear in the secondary  research, interviews and user stories  that two pain points someone like Maryam had the stress of going through a procedure and figuring out how to financially handle the  responsibility of it. This became the focal point to adhere to in the next phase of the design process and provided  direction when going into the ideation phase of the design process.

Establishing A Core Task Flow

Now that the app had a focal point, the knowledge obtained from all research was then used to create a primary task flow. 


This task flow demonstrates two different user stories from the Epic “Financial Planning for Healthcare Procedures”: getting online resources, and payment options available- assuming that the user has already established a profile and has logged in to  land on the search page is in effect

Initial User Flow

For our user, Maryam Tanus, this task flow was illustrated  to best assist her with her situation  needing a wisdom teeth procedure  performed.

The diagram demonstrating her  ability in a system decision to filter  payment options and find a  healthcare clinic that could adhere  to her financial and procedural  needs is a key element for  consideration for all users that is  kept in mind for this app.




A Notable Pivot


This pivot entailed the task flow diagram. Initially, the task flow of a payment app such as AirBnB was consulted for payment inspiration as to what a user would expect out of an app. However, when finalizing the task flow, the system design needed to be purely task oriented with different possible outcomes based on the user’s decisions, not just the screens they would expect to encounter.


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Sketches & Ideation

The next steps in the design process were to sketch out all possible ideas and to then create digital prototypes to test on users. After two rounds of testing and iterations after each round based on prioritized feedback with various users, the prototype was taken from a lo fi concept to a higher scaled mid fi in order to then search for UI inspiration to capture the sense of calm and aid that the healthcare industry strives for it’s patients to experience. 


Ideation Interaction

My initial sketches for this app were completed  with the “crazy eights” exercise. This in tern  allowed me to be able to in a minute, express all  raw ideas for the digital solution




Initial User Flow Diagram

The next phase of my project demonstrated lo-fi  sketches in order to organize information  architecture and to find a seamless interface for  users to be able to navigate without any  instruction.




POP App Demonstration and Feedback

Once the ideation was completed with initial concept  sketches like crazy eights and some lo fi wireframes,  an initial user test in the POP app was completed for  some concept validation.

After the initial user test was completed, the following  feedback was received;

“I really like the concept, it’s a great idea overall.” 

“I have a child so I think a growth chart would be helpful for me to determine by the child’s age what the average for their age is.”

Although that feedback is definitely valuable and  useful for a potential persona parent, that was  designated as a secondary feature to cater to parents  of younger children. The feedback was noted and was  decided to be considered at a different priority level.




Prototyping & User Testing

Once an initial prototype was built using systems  “Sketch” for art board building and “Invision” for a  prototype five subjects were approached to  voluntarily test the prototype linked below. They  were asked to provide honest feedback and to think  out loud during the testing. The recruitment criteria  was not as stringent for this test, as we were testing  for usability and for useful measures to patients in  Canada. The test subjects’ names will be listed in  the task result’s table.




Round 1 user testing and feedback

After initial testing, many users had the  same comments and some had surprising  actions.

“I am confused with what the skip button  is for”– this was a prime example of a  layout needing to immediately be  corrected in order to avoid confusion with  the most successful task, signing in.



A few  other areas noted to require change in the  feedback were:

  • The “New Discoveries” Wording

  • The double search capabilities within a  screen

  • The need for a back button or breadcrumbs

  • A preference for notifications


Version 1 screen vs version 2 screen of changes



Due to user feedback and testing, the following changes were made to the LO FI prototype:

  • Improving the task flow when a user signed up was made high priority

  • Removing the double search bar in the home screen to avoid confusion was then completed

  • Finally removing the “skip” button was done as it was not well received in the testing phase.


Round 2 user testing and feedback

After secondary testing, many users  had varying comments and some had surprising behavior.

This test round, a lot of the wording of  cards on the home page, bottom  navigation tools or a specific task like in  the “finding allergies resources” area were enough for users.

A lot of feedback was given for ease of scan lacking and visual hierarchy for what  they would opt to use in this tool first.

All noted feedback was useful and  prioritized for the next and up to date  prototype.

Version 2 to Current Version Comparison



After secondary testing, many users  had varying comments and some had surprising behavior.


This test round, a lot of the wording of  cards on the home page, bottom  navigation tools or a specific task like in  the “finding allergies resources” area were enough for users.


A lot of feedback was given for ease of scan lacking and visual hierarchy for what  they would opt to use in this tool first.


All noted feedback was useful and  prioritized for the next and up to date  prototype.

UI Inspiration board


  UI Elements

Here we are going to start with app specific features that would ideally be great sources of inspiration and components to use within the app. The colors chosen are to strategically be placed throughout various components of the app. Ideally, accents of blues and texts of purple will be demonstrated to continue the values of healing and serenity

Patient Anxiety 

Here, a huge inspiration for me was the knowledge gaps patients face. Sometimes, they feel panicked, like Maryam when she realizes she will need to account for the out of pocket expenses her procedure would entail. 


Patient First Inspiration Board

I sought out to find images and colours  that represent a sense of calm and ease  for users, which is why the mood board  demonstrates very gradient transitions  of blue and purple hues, I also wanted to  ensure that core values of a patient’s  healing being a priority were  represented, as demonstrated in the  quote included, and finally, I wanted to  ensure that there was a sense of humor  and overcoming stress (see if you can  identify the celebrity meditating  included).


Next Steps



The next steps would be implementing the UI elements and color themes outlined in the mood board, to then bring the prototype into a hi-fi design. I would then proceed to conduct round three testing and continue to iterate once user feedback is received to continue the process to continue creating a digital solution for Canadians.

Key Learning

As the sole UX designer for a research case study in the healthcare field, I was so surprised. As a native Canadian, I was shocked to discover the many problem areas that existed within the healthcare system.  This case study completed over three weeks will all increments of research was one that revealed how valuable designing for the patient experience on multiple avenues is. There are many areas of miscommunication that can be solved with a digital solution and to help the process both experienced by a patient and conducted by a healthcare professional go smoothly.


Reflecting on this process, the amount of research and strategy to identify the best course of action to design for a problem space was something I learned as a designer that I have a passion for. This role doesn’t purely entail ensuring that someone can view a product that meets design trends or accessibility standards alone. This role is one that involves being a calculated decision maker, impartial yet empathetic throughout the design process and most importantly to “embrace the ambiguity”. Even in the research phase of identifying a problem space, it is possible to have your assumptions or hypothesis proven UNTRUE or to uncover additional factors to a problem space that need to be taken into consideration.


My final take away from this project is there is a whole area in healthcare and technology that can really benefit from UX design principles and going forward, I plan to apply this knowledge towards more of these projects. This experience has exposed me to a new area that I have become eager to learn more about and passionate to design for, patients and healthcare professionals