Digital Patient Experience: Tips for Providing Empathetic Patient UX

Andrew Kucheriavy

Digital Patient Experience: Tips for Providing Empathetic Patient UX

As part of a series on digital patient centricity, every month we’re publishing tips that can lead to a remarkable improvement in digital patient experience.

Each set of tips published every month is based on the Digital Experience Scale for Patients (DES/P). This framework was specifically developed to assess and quantify the effectiveness of digital experiences, be it through websites, apps, or portals. 

Through extensive interviews and user testing involving a diverse range of patients, we’ve identified three core themes essential to delivering a patient-centered experience: Value, Simplicity, and Connectivity. Throughout this year, we are releasing monthly tips that align with the 12 criteria structured under these three key categories.

Value: Empathy

Patients find comfort in language, images, and illustrations that are relatable and easy to understand. The selection of imagery, illustrations, and language can significantly influence patients' emotional well-being, particularly during vulnerable moments. It's important that images not only correspond with the content on the page but also cater to the emotional requirements of both patients and caregivers. When a program or service fosters a positive and supportive environment, it enhances patient engagement and empowerment in their healthcare journey.

Providing Empathetic Patient UX

UX Tips for showing empathy to patients

  1. Anticipate patient needs and address them through guiding questions and answers, using a conversational style for further emotional support.

    To show empathy in a digital setting, anticipate patients’ needs by incorporating guiding questions and answers throughout the platform. This proactive approach helps address common concerns and queries patients may have. Employing a conversational style, rather than a clinical or technical tone, can add a layer of emotional support. It makes the interaction feel more personal and less intimidating, allowing patients to feel understood and cared for, even in a digital space.

  2. Use empathetic, patient-centric language, such as “we,” “here for you,” “support,” and “help.” This conveys the message that patients are not alone in their journey.

    The language used on digital platforms should resonate with warmth and empathy. Phrases like “we’re here for you” and “we’ll help you every step of the way” emphasize a collaborative approach to care. Such language reinforces to patients that they are not navigating their health journey alone, fostering a sense of partnership and understanding. It's crucial to communicate in a way that makes patients feel seen, heard, and valued, creating a supportive digital environment.

  3. Include inspirational photos of people representative of your patients’ demographic group to promote a sense of connection and trust.

    Including photos of people who represent your patient demographic can significantly enhance the sense of connection and trust. Seeing images of individuals they can relate to helps patients feel represented and understood. These images should be inspirational, conveying positivity and hope, to uplift patients and make them feel more at ease with the service or information being provided.

  4. Carefully select graphics, colors, and styling that are comforting to patients.

    The visual design of a digital healthcare platform has a profound impact on a patient's emotional state. Soothing color palettes, non-intrusive graphics, and a clean, uncluttered layout can make the digital experience more pleasant and less stressful for patients, especially when they are seeking information or assistance while feeling overwhelmed.

  5. Choose soft and organic shapes, such as curved lines and soft edges to create a feeling of calmness and peace.

    The use of soft and organic shapes, like curved lines and rounded edges, in design elements can contribute significantly to creating a calming digital environment. Sharp angles and rigid lines can be perceived as harsh or clinical, while softer shapes are often associated with comfort and safety. This subtle design choice can make a significant difference in how patients perceive and interact with the digital platform, fostering a sense of peace and ease during their experience.

    By focusing on the needs and preferences of patients, we can develop digital experiences that not only empower patients but also boost their adherence to therapy, ultimately leading to better health and well-being. Through a combination of teamwork and unwavering dedication to patient-centered design, we are setting the stage for a future in which technology and patient experiences seamlessly integrate, transforming healthcare for the better.

    Also see: UX Tips for Providing Value to Patients to Improve Digital User Experience