One of our main focuses at Netrix Digital is designing healthcare websites and applications. In this article, we will share our insights on designing a digital platform to assist with behavioral health treatment. The platform offers various features such as home team coordination, treatment plans, content planning, communication, document library, goal tracking, surveys, daily check-ins, reports, and support groups. We will be discussing specific design challenges related to the treatment plan and associated goals and exploring solutions with a focus on UX design in healthcare.
What is the Right EMR Software
Behavioral health describes the connection between health and well-being of both body and mind. This can include a variety of areas — starting from eating and drinking habits and coming to exercise and various mental challenges, which in their turn considerably affect our physical health. Behavioral health can extend to psychiatric conditions, marriage and family counseling, and addiction treatments. So it concerns almost everyone.
In this field of healthcare, we can’t just get a prescription for some drugs and then get back to the doctor after a month of treatment. This area requires daily self-discipline and support from therapists and staff. Treatment is mostly long-term and all professionals work with a big amount of information every day. At the same time, they keep in touch with their clients. Such work, in turn, requires a convenient database where all the researches and treatment histories can be stored. So that’s why there’s a great opportunity for a software solution such as EMR (an electronic medical record) to help therapists, patients, and everyone who participates in treatment.
The right-designed EMR solution does the following:
- Improves quality, safety, efficiency, and reduces health disparities
- Engages patients and families
- Improves care coordination and public health
- Maintains privacy and security of a patient’s health information
Digital Platform for Behavioural Treatment
At Netrix Digital, we’ve been working on a design for healthcare platform that provides treatment in the behavioural health field. This platform makes it possible for treatment providers to give family members and other natural mentors from a client’s life the ability to follow and contribute to their growth and healing during and after wilderness therapy, residential treatment, or hospitalization.
This platform is based on the existing program for the treatment of teenagers, which allows them to cope with such problems as:
Therapy is conducted in person, using a big number of therapists, professionals, and staff. After therapy, our ‘teen-clients’ (let’s name them students) go back home and get into their familiar surroundings, but therapy doesn’t stop and the hardest phase, to hold and multiply the result, starts. Given EMR platform includes:
- Home Team Coordination
- Treatment Plan
- Content Plan
- Communication (news feed, letters, messages, photo sharing)
- Documents Library (courses, files, images, videos)
- Goal Tracking
- Daily Check-ins
- Support groups of professionals
Taking into account the complexity of this application, in this article, we will focus on solving particular issues related to the treatment plan, as well as the goals that are a part of it.
First Step: Defining User Roles
We define the main roles of the behavioural treatment app:
- Administrator, who may be the owner, executive, or marketing director, is responsible for finding and enrolling students, assigning a therapist to them, and obtaining testimonials about the treatment. They also oversee, analyze, and manage the entire treatment process, including reports and check-ins, and ensure student satisfaction. Their main challenges include not wanting to spend too much time on administrative tasks, not fully understanding the concept of home teams, and not knowing how to effectively market the service.
- Treatment Therapist — Clinical Director or therapist. Their main duties are to create efficient communication between students and their parents, check treatment reports, and deliver updates to parents. Their main issue is that they often lack sufficient time for communication, and sometimes do not receive sufficient information about a student’s previous treatment. Additionally, some may be resistant to learning new approaches and tools.
- Parent, as a member of the home team, takes responsibility for providing support to their child (student) by themselves and by adding other members to the home team, checking progress, and keeping in touch with a therapist. Their main problem is that they often don’t know how to help their child, doubt the effectiveness of the treatment, and need advice from specialists regarding the next steps after the treatment period.
- Student (patient): The main duty of a student is to follow the treatment program and work on the tasks assigned by the professionals. Depending on their access to devices, they can reach out to the team for help and communicate with their parents and home team. Their main problems are feeling lonely without enough support, sometimes not believing that the treatment will help or not understanding why they need it. They may also feel like they are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with them, but they can’t share it with their friends.
We also have such roles as Home Therapist (a person who works in the collaboration with a Treatment therapist), Friend (a home team member who wants to help and support a student), Staff (a person who makes check-ins with a student and checks the progress of the treatment to help a Therapist).
So each role has its own duties, problems to solve, and goals to reach with the help of the Treatment application.
Second Step: Digitalizing Treatment Plan
One part of effective mental health treatment is the development of a treatment plan. A good professional in the sphere of mental health will work collaboratively with a client to make up a treatment plan that has achievable goals and eventually provides the best chances for the success of whole treatment success. The treatment plan is made by a therapist, especially for a student, and looks like a set of such components as goals, tasks, surveys, and campaigns. Each entity can depend on the other one or can be a self-reliant individual unit. A student doesn’t see the whole treatment plan at the beginning of the process; they get their tasks, questionnaires, etc. consistently, reporting results each day. During their treatment, that plan may be changed depending on each student’s success and adapted to their particular needs.
The treatment plan carries out many functions, the most important of which include:
- Defining the problem or ailment
- Describing the treatment prescribed by a mental health professional
- Setting a timeline for treatment progress (whether it’s a vague timeline or includes specific milestones)
- Identifying the major treatment goals
- Noting important milestones and objectives
They are the most important components of treatment that help a therapist and a student stays on the same page. They actually provide an opportunity for the discussion of treatment as planned, and basically can act as a reminder and motivational tool.
So we started by creating the Treatment plan as it’s the main unit, the whole treatment program is built around. It was a function that didn’t exist in the app before. The plan includes interdependent tasks, letters, goals, and surveys, which can as well depend on such factors as a schedule, level of treatment, and progress. It’s important for a therapist, who makes up the treatment plan, to consider all the dependencies that influence a student’s work and make it the most effective to achieve the ultimate goal, choosing a set of components and deadlines for each of them.
With the help of such a tool, you can make up a plan where it’s essential to get a certain credit point to achieve the next level. In fact, a student gets reminders, email support, and can send their feedback. The same plan suits treatment in other medical areas, but especially for psychological support (as in our case) where no laboratory research is required.
To create design for the treatment plan we went through three iterations, starting with a ‘program’ view (using if-then-else statements) to better understand the collaboration patterns between the plan’s elements. We then worked on designing a user-friendly interface (UI) and ensuring an understandable user experience (UX) to comply with the app’s aesthetics.
As a result, we designed an interface for a multi-component plan that allows for configuring dependencies between different entities such as tasks, surveys, and goals. Users can easily choose components from the library or create and import new ones. The interface also allows users to review the implementation progress.
Design is always an iterative process. After a year of working on the app, we simplified the flow without losing any important functionality. We introduced the content plan as an entity that can be sent to both the students and their parents. With this feature, they can easily add content from the library, set necessary settings, sending time, and passing reminders.
Additionally, we worked out the communication flow between the student and therapist in several stages: design, send (destination), receive, execute, and check (task/survey/goal).
Thus, the communicative process between students and specialists is designed to be as mutually transparent and understandable as possible. All the data, treatment content, and other research are stored in the database, which allows you to track the progress of each student and their treatment history.
In addition to this, the component library for a quick formation of new content plans was created, as well as sets of ready-made plans. Moreover, the function of importing data from any sources (CSV, cloud services) was also presented. You can use them in specific cases or for specific user groups, which greatly simplifies working with the information and allows you to customize it for particular situations.
Step 3: Improving Goals Creation Process
One of the most important roles in the treatment plan is played by goals. Since the problems that different individuals face vary greatly, the goals and action steps must be tailored to each person. It is crucial to set individual goals that define the main issues and the steps required to solve them. However, there are also many similar cases, and for this reason, we have created a Library of Goals that contains certain steps to achieve the goal.
Initially, the goal-making process was gradual and contained too much text, making it difficult to understand the interrelations. Therefore, we divided the process into six steps that a student could complete with a therapist or on their own. The student sees the following step and the time remaining before the process is complete, which gives them a feeling of control and encourages them to complete the process calmly.
Developing Goals we made sure they meet SMART criteria:
- Specific — Are specific activities included? Could the client understand what is expected?
- Measurable — Can change or progress toward meeting the objectives be documented/evaluated?
- Attainable — Can the client take steps toward meeting the objectives?
- Realistic — Can the client meet the objectives given their current situation?
- Time-Limited/Timely — Is the time frame specified for the objectives?
We got rid of a big amount of information, which was mainly confusing, and as a second step, we added some concrete actions because this is the defining aspect of goal setting.
We also introduced a number of options that help organize work and get support (set a schedule, share with other persons, report info to a therapist, set reminders).
Step 4: Adding Daily Check-in Feature
Daily checking in this healthcare application is needed to daily mark a student’s check-in where their mood and task completion are noted. This may be done by either a student or their therapist/staff, as in many cases a student in treatment may not have any access to electronic devices. Such kind of interaction between a student and the system provides a therapist with an opportunity to get/save the most relevant data concerning their wards (students), control task completion, and trace the progress statistic from a long-term perspective.
All the data received is saved in the system and displayed on a dashboard for both the student and therapist. It’s convenient for progress tracking and total statistic review. Such dashboards can be used for any type of treatment so that all the basic indicators relating to a student and their treatment progress can be tracked.
Using Goals and Check-ins in treatment allows us not just to set real tasks and gradually overcome a problem/addiction, but also adds such spice as gamification. In its turn, it brings emotions, as everyone wants to fill in their check-inboard with green checkboxes instead of red crosses, which also motivates them to complete tasks even on the subconscious level. All that provides an effective system of treatment and student support at every turn.
What is the Result?
In total, about 20 flows, which shape the app as a puzzle in one picture, have been worked out. Creating UX design for healthcare application, it is always important to consider a lot of aspects, as it is the sphere that demands maximum data accuracy and command clarity.
Working on this project it was essential to figure out how to make it digital, improve, and optimize all the methods and tools that were used by professionals during treatment. We pointed out the following ones:
- Library of entities where ranked data used during treatment is kept;
- Content plan (templates) that suits a maximum number of users who turn for help with the same problems;
- Treatment plan & check-in, communication arranging, and check of the completion of the tasks and goals set in general;
- The calendar allows organize and track a class schedule, treatment units, and many other functions.
Due to the large number of different types of users, it was important to consider the specifics of the field so that any employee from any organization could easily find the right functionality or entity and create a treatment program as effectively as possible. Additionally, for almost every entity, we have implemented the ability to import data from various sources to automate work with data from existing treatment programs.
Our work on the platform continues, as we are constantly studying the healthcare industry and its evolution. While we originally developed the platform for offline treatment and support of teenagers during after-treatment periods to extend their progress through digitalization, the current situation in the world has made online therapy a crucial need. This healthcare application can now provide treatment at all stages in a high-quality and easy-to-use manner. This means that while some processes will be added and others changed, platforms like ours are the future of the healthcare industry.
Learn more how to Elevate Telehealth experience with AI-powered application in our recent article.
Take care and stay healthy!