Diplomat Pharmacy is US’s largest independent provider of specialty pharmacy services.
Diplomat specializes in selling high-cost, high complexity drugs, typically not covered by a healthcare plan, which most of the times are used to treat rare chronical desases like HEPATITIS C, Hemophilia, HIV and others…

Most of Diplomat’s patients have regular, but complex schedules for taking their drugs and the process of ordering these drugs goes through paper forms or the pharmacy’s call centers. This brings multiple complications for the patients and ultimately costs Diplomat a lot of investment, for the monotonous tasks of receiving the same refill order calls every week.

The solution was to build a patient portal (for web and mobile), in which patients can order, track and manage refills. I created a project plan with an extensive Research phase, which would validate my assumptions and make me understand better the journey that the users go through and what are they looking for in a portal. We agreed on the plan with the steakholders and started rolling up the process of gathering stakeholders and users for interviews.

Stakeholders interviews
SHI are a great tool to align our mutual goals for the future vision of the product. I interviewed all of the decision makers one by one in a 30min interviews. This process helped me understood the steakholders’s vision for the success of the project and their perspective on what the patients need, which in some cases differs from the actual needs of the users. We also chatted around setting success metrics and KPIs for the platform, which in return measured how prosperous the project is after a certain time. One of the main goals we undercovered was:
“Eliminate status questions & fill refills online, thus resulting in a minimum of 25% reduction in phone calls to the center.“

User research
Building the right experience means understanding what the users actually need. Our initial talks with the stakeholders and the people from the call centers gave us insights, which helped us identify two main potential users for the portal – Caregivers and Patients.
With the help of the marketing department we organized user interview sessions. We went over the the emotional journey of finding out that they have a chronical desease for the first time and the ups and down of their everyday life.
The interviews were conducted both in person and remotely with the people from a call center.
Another great approach is talking directly to the help center personnel, as they also have massive amounts of information about the users. The collected information from these processes consists of voice recordings and notes. We wrapped up the user research with statistical data provided by the marketing department. As a result, we did cover both qualitative and quantitative data.

I wrapped up and synthetized all this information into documents.

Research analysis
After gathering the information on users, I got together with the stakeholders and conducted a Design Thinking workshop to analyze and summarize the data we have accumulated so far.

We summarized the information into two main personas – Mike (patient) & Kelly (caregiver) and mapped their demographics, needs, goals, and behaviors.
We continued with building empathy maps, which gave us insights on what the users think and do. This method helped me empathize with the people and set the starting point for the user flows. We wrapped up the workshop with a brainstorming session around possible features.

Competitive research
Studying competitors is a must in my process, I usually do it with reservations as their target user group could be different from ours. Having that in mind I know we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, so some of them have great solutions to issues we can face in the Design phase.

I also devoted some time in researching competitors.

The list of competitors was made based on the information from stakeholders. Also, I did some researching on my own, since a few of their references were outdated. I had a look at their strengths/weaknesses and combined their visual styles into an Invision Board, which we used for reference in the next stage – design.

Information architecture and user flows
As illustrated on the image on the left we’ve documented few user flows, on which we build our use cases for the web app, based on the patient’s needs.

Sketching & Wireframing
After agreeing on the correct user flows with the stakeholders came the phases of sketching and wireframing.

Sketching is a great way to make fast and interactive changes to the initial concepts. It helps a lot with the ideation part since I can easily try a few different directions before investing large amounts of time. We sketched a few concepts internally before agreeing on the right path and moved to wireframing and prototyping in Invision.

Visual research & Design
Using the prototyped wireframes and having user research in mind, I moved on to visual design.

We were working with people who have visual and physical impairments. The user interview outcomes showed us that a lot of HIV patients (biggest user base) were struggling with depression due to unemployment.

A simple solution was picked – positive orange, yellow gamut, and clean swiss-style typography, big icons, and elements with minimum gray colors.

A visual mood board was created, demonstrating the look before we moved to the design. (can be seen on the left).

Also, during the visual design, similar patterns from other platforms and apps that the users used to work with were taken into consideration. Different interaction concepts using Principle prototypes were explored.

Usability testing
We finished the process by Testing the Visual Design with real users ( through Invision ). Ideally, we’d create a coded prototype, but that would exceed client’s budget. We reached out to few of the users from the interviews and conducted the tests.

I prepared the scenarios/flows by which the users we guided and screens were tested. We updated the designs based on their feedback and shipped the app to production.

Brenda Patt – Product Manager @ Diplomat’s Patient Portal | BPatt@diplomat.is

ClientDiplomat Pharmacy (MI, USA)Year2016-2017