Online Emergency Department Check-in Mishap

Earlier this evening, my partner’s car was hit by a guy running a red light. He sustained a concussion and wanted to go to the hospital. Here is dashcam video of the accident.

After calling insurance to find out which hospital he could visit (turns out, not the closest one!), I looked it up online to verify the address. On that page, I saw that the emergency department offered online check-in so that you can wait at home.

screen shot of the Seton ER hospital home page with a form to locate a hospital
Screenshot: Seton ER home page

Being in a hurry since this was an emergency, I was scanning the page quickly. Only two things caught my eye:

  1. The headline that reads “Mini Emergency?” at which point,
  2. I scrolled down, saw the location I wanted, and clicked “Go”

What I did not notice was the most important information on the page—the statement about what conditions not to use online check-in for:

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or dial 9‑1‑1. Signs or symptoms of an acute emergency may include…head injury or other major trauma…

Design Recommendations

  1. Move the when-not-to-use-this information to be in context with the page’s main heading
  2. Make the small, gray font with poor contrast easier to read
  3. Transform the long, boring block with a bullet list
  4. Reduce the branding that takes up valuable real estate and obfuscates important information
  5. Under the covers, fix the order of headings
screenshot of design changes to the Seton ER homepage with important information highlighted
Screenshot: Updated Seton ER homepage

In the bathroom, I saw this great example of people making their own user experiences better. The lock was installed backwards.

Photo of a bathroom door lock where the lock is reversed so someone drew locked and unlocked icons on the door
Lock on the ER bathroom door

Blood Bank Questionnaire UI – Part 2

In Part 1, I explored issues and possible improvements to the blood bank’s questionnaire interface for each question. In this part, I’ll look at the end screen of the process.

screen shot of the questionnaire's end screen that asks the user to review the answers to all questions
Questionnaire end screen UI

The glaring issue with this screen is that it requires the user to remember each question based on a short, obviously programmer-named description like “BLD TRANSFUSION”. I question the need to review a dump of all the questions and answers. The progressive nature of the questionnaire and the ability to jump back and forth between questions provides the user adequate opportunity to review and change answers.

Design Possibilities

  1. Determine how necessary this end screen really is. How often do people use it? How often do users go back and change answers at the end? If it’s very low, get rid of it.
  2. Rather than show all questions, maybe show only those questions users skipped and give them another chance to answer.

    end screen mock up that asks users if they would like to answer any questions skipped during the questionnaire
  3. Change the format of the questionnaire to show multiple questions at a time, and progress through only a few screens where questions are grouped together by type. For example, travel, sexual activity, and disease exposure.

    questionnaire screen with 4 questions in a Current Health section

Blood Bank Questionnaire UI – Part 1

I’m a regular blood donor so I must have used this self-administered questionnaire UI dozens of times over the years. It’s old, clunky, and suffers from providing the bear minimum in functionality with little thought to usability.

Screen shot of the self questionnaire interface
Screen shot of the self questionnaire interface

Top issues

  1. Using check boxes for the answer responses when only one choice is allowed (yes, no, or skip). My best guess about why they used check boxes instead of radio buttons is to allow a user to remove any response to the question.
  2. Placing the “Continue” button at the bottom of the page, far away from the answer check boxes. This results in having to move the mouse up and down, over and over, for every question.
  3. No indication of how many questions there are or which question you’re on.
  4. No integration of the educational materials within the interface. If you want to know which European countries are on the travel list, you have to consult a paper print out.
  5. It’s ugly and does not provide a very friendly experience.

Design Recommendations

Here’s a mock up I did that attempts to address the top issues.

Screen shot of a new mock up of the questionnaire UI
My mock up of the questionnaire UI
  1. Use radio buttons for the answer responses (yes and no) and move the “skip” option to a link that does not give the “skip” option the same visual weight as “yes” or “no.”
  2. Change the “Continue” button to “Next” and place it next to the radio buttons to minimize the effort of answering the question and moving on to the next one.
  3. Add a status bar for a quick visual of how far along you are in the questions, and indicate which question you’re on, e.g. 15 of 28.
  4. Add links to the educational materials within the interface.
  5. Update the look and feel. Use the blood bank’s logo and color palette instead of the software maker’s.

And here is what the interface looks like once the user selects an answer.

Screen shot of the updated UI with the "no" radio button checked
UI updated with a checked response

The user no longer has the option to clear a response. Maybe clicking “skip question” would clear the radio button? But since a user must answer all questions eventually, either in the software or verbally to a tech, I don’t see the ability to clear a response in the UI as very important.