Wicked problem design challenge — transforming end-to-end experience in medical practices

Photo by Derek Finch

For our first design challenge in Ironhack Anaïs, Annemijn, Corinna & I have chosen to tackle the following wicked problem:

Note: Instead of public hospitals we decided to focus specifically on local medical practices which are usually the main points of contact when requesting an appointment with a doctor in Europe.

In order to tackle this challenge, we employed systems thinking, design thinking and agile methodologies. These were our steps to define our decision-making process.

Image source: Design Thinking VS User-Centered Design — Spring2 Innovation


User Research — Survey & Interview

We began to tackle the problem from the lean survey canvas which helped us prepare a better user Survey faster and allowed everyone to collaborate with all of the information at hand before writing questions.

In addition, to the survey we have also conducted interviews with 5 people. Our goal was to have a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to form a better picture of our user. Some of the interview questions included:

  • Can you recall the last time you went to see your doctor? Please tell me about the general experience with your medical practice.
  • What do you find important when choosing a medical practice/doctor?
  • What is your experience with making an appointment with your doctor?

After receiving 32 responses from the surveys and conducting 5 interviews within one day we created an affinity map to visually cluster our findings. In the map the colour coding was used to group the answers by topic (green notes) and to mark the pain points (red) and any insights (purple).

Empathy Map

After identifying the main problems the users experience, we created an empathy map to develop a deep, shared understanding of our user.

Hopefully I can make an appointment quickly…

What web portal? That never even works!

If I call the reception will they speak English?

User Persona

To remind ourselves who we are designing for and to summarize our user research, we created a user persona. Meet Anna Fahey, a 29 years-old German living in the Netherlands who leads a fairly healthy lifestyle and goes to the doctor only when she is really sick. In that case she wants to make an appointment quickly.

From the user research we understood that in most cases people do not use online environments at all in order to contact their medical practices. For this reason, the list of Anna’s goals and frustrations is rather long.


Focus Pain Points and Problem statement

After considering all the pain points experienced by the users we narrowed our focus to what we believed were the most important to solve for the user of local medical practices:

🔴 The time to get an appointment is too long.

🔴 Modifying an appointment is not easy.

🔴 Language barrier when calling the medical practice or using a local website.

🔴 Not all information about the doctors is available online.

From here we came up with the following problem statement:

“(Potential) patients need quick access to make or modify an appointment with a doctor and to receive health-related information online, because they are currently postponing or avoiding to see the doctor, are dealing with long waiting times, a language barrier and a lack of direct feedback.

Photo by National Cancer Institute

User Journey Map

To outline the current struggles and behaviour of Anna Fahey, we created an user journey map which helped us identify the opportunities for our future design.

Current user journey map


Voting and Grouping

Our ideation process began with brainstorming as many ideas as possible and then each of the team member voted for their preferred solution.

Brainstorming stage 1: voting

Afterwards the ideas which did not get any votes were removed and the remaining ones were grouped by different colours.

Medi-App Prototype

Based on the chosen ideas we made some low-fi wireframe sketches on paper and then combined the best features of each to design the final version on Figma.

Medi-App would allow patients from all around the country to login straight into their local medical practice.

The app is displayed in English (the option to change the languages could be hidden under profile settings).

Lo-fi prototype on Figma

Screen 1: Sign-in screen

Screen 2: The user has 3 options: to check their test results, ask for medication prescription and the most important — Book an appointment at the top. At the bottom there is a calendar icon where the scheduled appointments can be modified.

Screen 3: After clicking Book an appointment the user is presented with a list of doctors. Here they can see their languages spoken and the reviews. Also, “You visited this doctor last time” is added to help patients choose the doctor easier.

Screen 4: The user selects the doctor is then taken to their profile. After the user clicks on double appointment, the time slot this doctor is available for 30 min appointment is highlighted. All the information about the doctor himself is also accessible from this screen.

Screen 5: Then, the user chooses the time and is taken to the next screen with an option to be notified if earlier time becomes available. Also, they can choose if they wish to receive an email confirmation and to specify their symptoms for the doctor to be better informed at the time of the appointment.

Screen 6: Finally, after clicking Confirm this appointment, the patient is taken to the confirmation screen which includes all the appointment details.


As the final step of our case study we tested the prototype via Maze. Based on the direct success rates (image below) it seems that the usability of the design should be further improved to reach a higher percentage.

Success & Failure metrics after testing

Next Steps

For the future improvements of the app we would need to thoroughly analyze the usability test results and iterate on the prototype.

We believe that additional features which could further improve our user experience could be added. For example, an option to choose different type of doctors and specialists. Also, having in mind that the app is designed for all the patients it should be made more accessible for people with disabilities. Of course, these additions should only be made if after performing an additional user research we would learn that this is something what is required by the user.

Key Learnings

During this case study the UX research process proved us that we can get more valuable information from qualitative methods as opposed to quantitative. And yet, the list of pain points identified was rather long and we realized the need to make quicker decisions. It was rather difficult to cross-reference all the data to define a problem where we could base our solution on. Once again, we were reminded that although you fall into your analyzed target group, you are not your user. User research is crucial to avoid the subjective view and base the design on the actual problems of the user.

This was my first case study to tackle in a team which taught me the importance of integrating a diversity of everyone’s points of view in ideation stage in order to come up with better design solutions. It was a challenging but enjoyable process.

Thank you for reading! Your feedback is very much welcome

Photo by Myriam Zilles



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