My apologies to you, the user. Reflecting on a decade as a healthcare… | by Chris Kiess | Dec, 2023


Reflecting on a decade as a healthcare experience designer.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

This has been a long time coming. It’s taken me more than a decade to get here. But after 12 years as a healthcare experience designer, I’ve come to the realization that concessions are due.

This isn’t an admission of defeat or one of lost hope. I still have hope and like Sisyphus, I’ll keep pushing against the boulder on this steep incline. But the incline is far steeper and gravity a far more powerful force than I could have ever imagined.

You see, I thought UX was the next big wave. I thought it would change the world…and, healthcare. I thought technology was the answer and the experience was the new product. But only naïveté could allow me to continue my career with such clouded vision.

And only hope allows me to continue my career at all.

I used to be proud to tell a clinician I was a UX designer — that I designed technologies to enable safer and more efficient care of the sick and ailing. I still do have some pride in that respect. But not as much as I used to. And I find I have to qualify it. There’s always a but these days.

Last week, I saw my primary care physician. When she asked what I did for a living I told her I was a healthcare experience designer working in technology. I then quickly followed up with, but not software like that though, and pointed to the electronic health record (EHR) she was slavishly working through.

She then proceeded to rant for the next 5 minutes about how difficult it was for her to use the EHR. She explained how she would have to go through multiple steps to perform an action that should only take one. She showed me how many screens she needed to mitigate just to find my last appointment with another physician.

She told me of days spent with patients in her office until after 5, rushing through dinner with her family and returning to documentation for her patients until late into the night. That wasn’t a new story to me. I’m well aware of the challenges physicians and nurses face in this respect and have written of it before. But it was painful to hear in person — painful because I feel as though I might be part of the problem.


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