How can UX improve health outcomes?

Dale Morrell
June 2023

As healthcare becomes exceedingly digital, the importance of user experience, service design, and customer experience has never been more critical. These elements become the foundation for access, quality, customer satisfaction, and effectiveness.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for ‘healthcare from home’, a new era of healthcare where patients now expect easier access and convenience.

We’re now in a time of telemedicine adoption, creating innovations across health tech, and transforming the industry to meet the evolving needs of patients and providers.

As such this presents an opportunity for designers to participate in extremely meaningful and transformative work.

UX is leading the charge

UX design is at the forefront of the healthcare revolution, applying a user-centred design approach to tackle complex challenges.

Healthcare can be convoluted, with massive amounts of data, multiple stakeholders and inputs and touchpoints, and potentially numerous assisted devices. All of which working well or not could be the difference of life or death, in certain instances.

Understand users in order to help them

Before we talk about user experience we need to talk about user research. Research is essential in understanding patient and user needs and preferences. We have to first be clear on what the problem is we are trying to solve for them, and what ways work best for them to do so, along with the needs of any other stakeholders such as healthcare providers. You can find out more about this in our recent blog ‘The value of primary research’.

Putting people first is essential for the success of any product, especially for healthcare, where being patient-centric is the main focus.

Instead of starting with technology, we have to start with people. Spend time with your users. Work to understand the needs and motivations of all relevant stakeholders, identify their problems and set priorities. Then we can apply UX research, to then move onto enabling UX design.

Simplicity saves lives

Once the user needs are understood, along with the health scenario and wider context, we can then look to design a service that empowers users to manage and improve their health.

By making processes easier to understand, and interfaces easier to use, we can reduce mistakes and improve outcomes.

Digital health, health tech and med tech isn’t always about life and death situations, but there are some key basic principles that will create better outcomes for any type of health-related app or service:

Clear language

Using simple, plain English is the best way to help users to understand a new service. It’s also essential for users with low literacy.

Streamlined UX

A streamlined navigation ensures users can access the information they need quickly and efficiently.

Preferred formats

Using content formats based on what users say they’re more likely to engage with will improve adoption and effectiveness. For example, through user research we found that video content is what users needed and wanted, rather than written content, for our recent work on Ammi, the app that supports new parents.

A straightforward offering 

Reducing features to only have what users and patients need and want will create a service with more clarity for them, and thus be more effective. 

Bring data to life

Visualisation is enabling and empowering for users, from being able to see and understand their own data in easier and more insightful ways (for example glucose data for diabetic patients), to simply providing pictures of things they need to know about (see the mhealth app example below).

Be accessible and inclusive

Ensure accessibility and inclusivity for all user groups. For example, designing for older adult users means you need to understand the needs of these users (capabilities, usage patterns, preferences) to consider text size options, colours, and navigation choices.

While offering the service in other languages may be essential to ensure the patient or user fully understands the information they are presented with.

Recent examples

mhealth apps

Visuals help patients to understand things. Prescription drugs often have complicated and hard to remember names, so that’s why mhealth apps have started to strategically use images. This helps users to make critical mental connections to a drug by illustrating the pill colour, the dosage, and how to take the medication. This can be vital for patients who have a lot of different medications to take, and who may not easily remember which is which.

Oscar Health

Insurance provider Oscar Health (tagline: “A healthcare app you’ll actually use”) developed a digital health platform that offers personalised care teams and telemedicine services, which makes enhanced healthcare more accessible to people who might not have previously used these services.

While the service offers users ‘more’, the UX presents it in a clear, simple, and straightforward way, which makes it accessible and popular (rather than complicated or daunting, as it otherwise could be).

Indeed, a recent study found that a well-designed telemedicine platform improves patient satisfaction significantly and clearly leads to better clinical outcomes.


There is also an opportunity to help make data more human through personalised experiences. For instance, apps like Ada, which use AI-powered symptom assessments, provide users with personalised recommendations based on their unique health information.

This is a little glimpse into the future, where creating intuitive, conversational interfaces can improve collaboration between stakeholders, clinicians, and patients, enabling better communication, potentially earlier diagnoses, and ultimately better health outcomes.

It’s a great example of AI integration with a simple conversational design. The app is effective as a first step - for accuracy, no app outperformed GPs but Ada came closest, with doctors accuracy at a mean of 82% and Ada next at 71%. However, it’s the simplified, visual, and conversational design that means the app is used by users, which is leading to earlier diagnoses and better health outcomes.

Our approach

NHS Hepatitis C National Testing Portal

We ran the discovery and design phase for the new NHS Hepatitis C Testing Portal. By interviewing all risk groups to understand their needs, we identified the need to use simplified and normalised language for low literacy users, the need to remove authentication (which made many at-risk groups drop off), the need for as few steps as possible in the user journey, and the need to offer the service in Urdu. All of which have been implemented to offer a more user-centric service that will improve usability of the service, in order to reduce hepatitis C rates in the UK.


In our work on Pausetrack, the perimenopause tracking app, we introduced data visualisation to help users track and understand their menopause symptoms, their periods, and interventions. This helps users to identify solutions that work best for them.

Talk It Out

For Talk It Out, the app that helps you to untangle thoughts, we created a design that wouldn’t get in the way of what the user wanted to do. A simple, easy, bright and straightforward UX that would increase usability by stripping away anything that wasn’t needed, so users could get straight to the principle function of the app.

We can help

A well-designed health app and service is a catalyst for a healthier tomorrow.

UX design can improve everyday lives, and within digital health and healthcare the benefits can be far greater.

Services need to be accessible, inclusive, and intuitive. Especially for patients and users who are not physically or mentally functioning at their best, or face digital access barriers or otherwise, then UX design can be even more critical.

Understanding patient and users needs, and empowering them through optimal UX, is what improves outcomes across digital healthcare.

If you would like to know more, or want help with discovery or design, then please contact us at We’re here to help.

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