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Rethinking Healthcare in the Digital Age

Digital technology is firmly embedded in our lives. This has caused tremors throughout traditional workplaces. While digital disruption has permeated our daily lives, from the way we shop to the way we work, it is only just starting to influence how we manage health. 

The healthcare industry is at a turning point where it is primed for disruption. But like any other industry on the brink of digital disruption, healthcare should also be bracing itself for the paradox of hyper-connection and disconnection. 

Many of us have had instances where we look up health information online. In fact, 70 percent of internet users have done this in moments of self-diagnosis. However, very few have an app downloaded on their smartphones to track their health. 

This all points to a disconnect between personal healthcare and personal technology. While personal technology is constantly improving, the healthcare industry is not keeping up. The healthcare industry needs to step into the digital world and meet customer demands. 

Healthcare institutions can reinvent their digital strategies by building modern digital platforms where their customers can engage with them in new ways. 

Digital Healthcare Strategies 

The world of healthcare needs to reinvent its strategy by adopting digital tools. This way, they can meet the needs of modern customers. Modern technologies have enabled people living with chronic conditions to manage their diseases. Healthcare organizations are using digital applications to manage and improve the outcomes of many diseases. 

Big data is an excellent tool for healthcare providers to gather information on how patients are responding to treatment and assess whether resources are being used efficiently. They can provide their patients with better care by communicating the objectives of the process. 

This is important in case the patient has a concern about their confidentiality which is addressed by a constant review of data security, consent, and opt-outs. Such a digitized healthcare program can improve the future of medicine by integrating medical expertise in treatment, diagnosis and end-of-life care. The remarkable digital trend we are witnessing is the shift toward personalized medicine. 

Technology has advanced diagnostics and the drug development pipeline. It has also improved the way healthcare providers diagnose diseases and match each patient with the right treatment. 

Rethinking Digital Approach 

Healthcare providers can offer their customers a high-end experience by providing affordable virtual care via telehealth and digital tools to create the ultimate digital solution. However, healthcare providers must ask three questions to adapt to the new changes in technology: 

1. Does virtual care help in achieving a strategic goal? The main goal is to achieve patient convenience and improved access for physicians to other complex patients via telehealth. Telemedicine reduces the use of clinical resources that increase the medical expenses for the customer. 

2. How will the success of virtual care be measured? Healthcare providers need to take on A/B testing to evaluate the effectiveness and variability of these technologies. 

3. Will the providers find the resources and time to test the massive list of digital tools? The solution would be to involve other players to assist in the provision of services like nurses, physician assistants, nutritionists and many more. 

Mobile Technology and Health 

Mobility is a game-changer in the healthcare industry. Healthcare and infrastructure have been integrated so that end-to-end patient experience is now possible for providers. 

The healthcare provider doesn't have to rely solely on web design to attract the customer because of the new mobile touchpoint with patients. Mobile devices provide patients and physicians alike with the right information at the right time regarding the patient. 

Mobile has provided a vast digital experience that has immensely changed the healthcare ecosystem by: 

• Leveraging patient engagement analytics and behavioural data to personalized experiences while delivering solutions that influence the decision-making of the patient. 

• Deployment of the turnkey applications for connected devices across an integrated delivery network. 

• Supporting patient wellness with a fleet of wearable devices like smartwatches. 

Adapt Your Design to Improve Patient Experience 

The healthcare industry is being shaped by digital transformation from web design to mobile applications and everything in between. In the future, digital tools will provide a mobile, fluid and flexible platform to deliver healthcare services and boost customer experience. 

Anyone who has walked into a healthcare institution has felt the cold, sterile patient experience we have come to expect. The typical healthcare experience includes floor-to-ceiling white paint, minimal windows and wide, empty hallways. Naturally, this doesn’t bring about a positive sentiment for patients. 

Many of the leading healthcare providers have recognized this and made changes. Organizations are pushing the boundaries of patient experience in health care institutions. One such healthcare institution is Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

The Toronto hospital has recognized that these places can be intimidating for child patients and heartbreaking for their families. Among a number of patient experience initiatives, the hospital building includes floor-to-ceiling windows, neutral colours and a “living” green wall inside the cafeteria. 

These types of industry-leading initiatives are driving patient experience design across the country. Hospitals such as Holland Bloorview are recognizing that starts long before a patient’s arrival at the hospital, and ends long after they leave. This is why healthcare website design is fundamental to the patient experience. Today, we uncover the healthcare design trends at the forefront of the industry’s digital landscape. 

Hero Banners 

Hero banners play a crucial role in the healthcare website experience. As the first visual components that a user will see, a hero banner generally includes eye-catching statements, bold visual elements, and imagery reflective of the organization’s landscape, people or events. 

From the standpoint of healthcare website design, a hero banner has to reflect the patient experience you are attempting to convey. Due to the large size of the image, it can effectively display the hospital’s architecture, for example. In the case of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the hero banner displays the modern architecture and landscape of the hospital location.

The building appears modern, exciting and welcoming, while the landscape is filled with green space. This hero banner is an encouraging first touchpoint for someone who wishes to avoid the cold, sterile hospital experience. 

Image of Adelaide hospital landing page.

The hero banner sets the tone for the website visitor’s journey, not only online, but for any real-world interactions, a user may have with the organization. Furthermore, a user-centric design approach means that hero banners can leverage calls to action for a guided user journey, ensuring a positive experience. 


Slideshows are used in many areas of healthcare websites, enabling users to cycle through items in sequential order. More often than not, these slideshows are used in conjunction with a hero banner to highlight a variety of key topics. 

Healthcare website slideshow.

A core aspect of healthcare experience design is sensitivity. Many patients and their families deal with sensitive and personal medical issues. For a person to truly feel connected and trust their healthcare provider, they have to feel as though the organization is sensitive to and understands their particular situation.  

Take, for example, the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s website. Their home page features a hero banner with a slideshow, presenting a variety of key information. The content is meant to connect with different audiences so that each visitor will find information that encourages the belief that the organization understands the issues they face. 

An important note about slideshows is that this design trend has been declining in use over a number of years. This is because user research shows that audeinces scroll too fast to view more than one or two slides. This design component can exist as white noise or even a distraction because it occupies a large amount of real estate. To overcome this challenge, healthcare organizations must use slideshows as a storytelling element for branded narratives and tailored calls to action. 

Custom Icons 

The purpose of custom icons is more than simply to visualize specific topics. Custom icons can enrich the user experience by showcasing brand personality through colour and style. This is a natural extension of the physical patient experience. Where hospitals use colourful doorways and “living” green walls, they can also create a more welcoming and engaging website experience. 

Custom images example on healthcare site.

MD Anderson Cancer Center uses custom icons with vibrant colours across its website. Their brand focus is on patient experience and creating messaging that resonates with their audience. Icons are a visual representation of real-world objects. For this reason, they have to be easily understood and simple in design. Icons are a tool to introduce playfulness, reduce cognitive load for users and make deeper connections between the online and real-world experience. 

Menus and Footers 

For healthcare organizations, menus and footers can be difficult to design. How do you design a menu that is trimmed down to the necessary elements, while including information for all stakeholders? Many hospitals provide patient care, family support, community activities, investor relations and foundation info, all from one site. 

The key is a focus on user experience. Rather than an information dump, a menu is an opportunity to be creative in encouraging users to explore the website. Just as entering a hospital can be daunting, so too can a huge, unstructured mega menu. 

Peter Mac Healthcare Landing Page Image.

Finding the right information on the first try is fundamental to the patient experience. What is already an emotionally taxing experience is often made worse by a website that is not user-friendly. The user journey needs to be well-researched and understood. The above image from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre demonstrates a navigation menu that is simple, designed to meet the needs of all users

Effective user experience design involves the use of data. Making assumptions about an audience is risky, particularly when the audience consists of so many stakeholders. Performing real user tests will establish the effectiveness of the navigation in your current menu.  

Are users finding the information they need? How many attempts does it take before they find it? Are they taking the most efficient path through the website to get their information? Tools such as Treejack are at the cutting-edge of UX design, enabling the healthcare design agency to develop a menu that works

Patient Digital Experience Matters More Now Than Ever 

Modern healthcare experience design is vastly different from what users have come to expect. That’s a good thing. Users are people, not robots and this mentality should define every design element in the healthcare digital experience. The healthcare experience examples in this article are a few of the key design trends in the industry. 

One thing is for certain, OPIN understands that digital trends extend into more and more industries every day. This is why we work with many healthcare organizations to provide them with digital advancements to stay ahead of the curve. 

OPIN partners with Canada's leading healthcare firms, helping them break through the noise and create industry-leading designs. OPIN's data-driven approach to design has played a key role in our work with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital tapped OPIN as part of an effort to revitalize its patient experience to match the real-world experience offered by the hospital. 

On the backbone of ambitious platforms such as Drupal, we are able to keep the online presence of healthcare organizations strong and hopeful. 

Ryan Pelicos

Marketing Coordinator

Ryan is a passionate storyteller who thrives on challenging the status quo. He is an avid researcher with a keen analytical mind able to strategize on technology, sales and marketing decisions by analyzing data and behaviours across various industries and technologies.



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