Putting People First with Digital Healthcare: Human-Centered Design

Thought Leadership

By Apply Digital Staff | August 08, 2022
Mom and child interacting with healthcare provider on smartphone

When you need to access healthcare, you’re typically not feeling your best. That’s why it can mean so much when a healthcare provider (HCP) creates space to listen to your needs, is empathetic, and works with you to create a care plan. This people-centered care experience works when both provider and patient needs are considered and it supports the evolution from the traditional paternalistic healthcare model to a more collaborative experience.

Around the world, patients are living longer with complex health conditions and have higher expectations for self-service options. Layer on the recent pandemic, HCP capacity issues, and accompanying burnout, and it’s clear there are significant strains on traditional healthcare systems. It needs to be easier for providers and patients to create and have positive care experiences. 

Since the pandemic, providers are using more digital health technologies than ever to deliver the right care, at the right place, at the right time — and patients are embracing this access. Countries around the world continue to leverage the potential of digital health to build provider capacity, lower costs, and empower patients to proactively manage their health. But just like an in-person encounter, the patient and provider experience are crucial to enabling quality, safe outcomes. So what can prioritizing the human experience look like in digital health?

People-centered care and human-centered design

Enter human-centered design, an approach to problem-solving that puts people first. It’s the process of mapping out a plan that considers everyone’s needs — including the end user. It’s about being rigorous about who is involved in a project and when — early on — and making sure everyone feels comfortable sharing their needs. Instead of making assumptions, it’s about asking “what matters to you?” And when you create space to listen, you’ll hear insights that can add significant value to your product or service.

Apply Digital is an expert in creating innovative and thoughtful human-centered design experiences across industries. As an ongoing learning company, we build on findings from working with user experience industry leaders like Electronic Arts, Kraft Heinz, and lululemon. Whether people are gaming or consuming products, there is much to learn from prioritizing the user experience. We apply these people-first learnings in everything we do and know that human-centered design is essential to creating transformative digital health.

MACH technology and continuous quality improvement

In tandem with human-centered design, we use technology that enables organizations to practice continuous quality improvement in digital health technology. MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) technology allows healthcare companies to scale, experiment, and adapt to support changing population needs.

Human-centered design and digital healthcare in action

Through our work with healthcare clients, we’ve found that creating products and services with human-centered design and MACH technology can:

  • Create capacity and efficiencies (reduce duplication)

  • Increase access to care 

  • Improve the patient and provider experience

Here are a few examples of how we’re supporting digital healthcare technology to put people first on projects like Moderna and NurseGrid:



Human-centered design solution

Moderna, biopharmaceutical

As their critical COVID-19 vaccine hit the global market, Moderna wanted to build capacity to support and empower HCPs with a progressive digital experience. They also needed a way to educate consumers and HCPs on the mRNA platform’s capabilities.

We focused on listening to product user needs, including provider and patient pain points and what mattered to them.

We looked at Moderna’s content experiences as an overall system to break down silos with integrated solutions, and help providers and patients find information faster and for HCPs to manage digital patient encounters easily and empathetically.

eMed, patients

Smart healthcare start-up eMed wanted to give every American access to easy and affordable at-home COVID-19 testing.

We created a simple commerce user experience with an in-depth strategic analysis to define the brand’s direction, identity, and visual design system.

The seamless digital experience allowed users to learn about COVID-19 testing, buy test kits online, and complete professionally proctored COVID-19 tests, all from the comfort of their homes.

NurseGrid, HCPs

With nurses often unable to have their phones on them during shifts, NurseGrid recognized the need to bring their scheduling and social networking app onto a more work-friendly and accessible platform — the smartwatch.

We collaborated closely with NurseGrid’s team and the Lab — our tech research and development team — to examine user data and insights. We prioritized features to innovate a seamless, accessible smartwatch experience.

At its core, healthcare is about people and their experiences. Putting people first in a digital health environment can help healthcare organizations scale faster, adapt to population needs and set the stage to create exceptional patient and provider experiences. It can help create space where empathetic, human connection can occur. When you combine human-centered design with MACH technology, you’ll have technology that supports continuous quality improvement and flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing healthcare landscape.

At Apply Digital, we can support your healthcare organization’s growth. Let’s advance human-centered design in digital healthcare together. Reach out to us at hello@applydigital.com.

Co-written by Sasha Speranzini and Mark Metias