The Professional Credentials Exchange (ProCredEx)
is a healthtech startup aiming to streamline the arduous process that is medical credentialing by leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology.
ProCredEx came to us with an existing idea for their blockchain consortium and the premise that users would understand the concept easily in addition to trusting the exchange for credible verifications. It was our job to test these assumptions by designing user flows and interaction, followed by evaluating the system.
Medical credentialing is a mandated — and largely nonstandard — process throughout the healthcare industry that ensures a practitioner can competently deliver patient care. Credentialing verifies accuracy and specific information of credentials documents, but there are glaring issues associated with the process.
Providers are often contracted to work with multiple organizations and have to be credentialed with every payer contracted for reimbursement by each of those organizations. This results in the provider maintaining redundant credentials information with numerous independent entities.
Number of independent organizations a practitioner may be engaged with
It can take up to half a year for a newly hired or contracted practitioner to finish credentialing. This is significant because payers won’t start reimbursing for a practitioner’s work until they’ve been credentialed.
Amount of time it often takes to complete credentialing
This adds up to a net loss of $7,500 every day a practitioner is working, but can’t be billed. Over the 4 to 6 months, that’s an aggregated amount of $600,000 to $900,000 in lost revenue for the hospital, per practitioner that hasn’t finished credentialing.
Aggregated amount of lost revenue over 4-6 months,
Credentialing directly impedes growth, revenue, and practitioner mobility across the healthcare market.
A web-based marketplace which...
1) Gathers and forms a collection of practitioner credentials data across the healthcare industry to reduce the redundancy in credentialing.
2) Transforms the verification of a credentials document into a digital asset that can be actively traded amongst members of the exchange.
ProCredEx leverages Distributed Ledger Technology, specifically blockchain, to power the transactions and ensure the immutability, transparency, and security of provider data.
ProCredEx's goal is to significantly reduce the effort, time, and cost spent credentialing.
To create an MVP prototype for medical credentialing specialists that will streamline the credentialing process because their current system is redundant, time-consuming, and costly.
We started by understanding why blockchain was essential for the platform.
Blockchain provides the infrastructure for the exchange to facilitate transactions. Hover to read about each characteristic.
While these are important properties of blockchain, users don't necessarily have to understand all the technicalities in order to successfully use the product. Instead, because ProCredEx is an unfamiliar resource to users, it was our responsibility to create understandable design that can be seamlessly woven into their current process and that allowed for users to trust the information and assets on the exchange.
Design for trust and understanding.
After research, preliminary user interviews were conducted. We asked users to take us through their current credentialing process and using those insights, we created a user journey map to identify key moments and reveal pain points in their current systems. Along the way, the map ended up revealing the key tasks necessary for the application and allowed us to establish a shared vision for the product direction with stakeholders.
Derived task for ProCredEx:
Derived task for ProCredEx:
Derived task for ProCredEx:
Creating a persona helped us stay grounded in user goals and needs. In speaking to users, we found them to be extremely knowledgeable and savvy about rules and regulations associated with credentialing. Because our users understand the process inside out, it was important for design to hit all the key requirements necessary for credentialing in order to establish the platform as valuable to the healthcare organizations they work for.
To complete a provider's credentialing easily and efficiently
1) Credentials verifications on the exchange have been verified accurately and are trustworthy to acquire for their credentialing needs.
2) The platform is quickly understandable and easy to navigate.
The needs to feel refer back to the idea that we should design for trust and understanding. While blockchain provides the infrastructure for the platform, blockchain is not what is attracting users to this platform. ProCredEx is offering a new level of efficiency and experience for credentialing that users can’t find anywhere else. That should be conveyed through careful design.
We broke each task up into incremental steps.
Now that we've understood both the technology and user needs, we moved on to whiteboarding to map out the three task flows.
Whiteboarding helped us to pinpoint key actions required for each task and to ideate screen flow.
According to those steps, we sketched out task flows. From user research, we learned that credentialing specialists work in office settings and are accustomed to performing tasks on a large screen. Because of this, ProCredEx will be developed as a desktop platform.
Referencing those sketches, I created wireframes to show the flow of each task, step by step. The example below is for task 2.
Below are some of the specific design decisions we made to address building user trust in the credentials verifications on the exchange in addition to supporting quick understanding of the platform. The example shown is the provider portfolio page.
We conducted one round of usability testing and made refinements to the prototype based on user feedback.
With these refinements, we conducted another round of usability tests. Below are the compiled results from testing.
Subject Matter Experts
We conducted 9 usability tests with medical credentialing specialists belonging to 3 different healthcare organizations across the United States. From these user tests, we wanted to understand if they could easily navigate the product after being introduced to it. Beyond that, we hoped to learn if there was a sense of trust and understanding accompanying the product design.
Did the design support understanding?
Users showed a positive response to the prototype and product concept. They could see the potential value ProCredEx would bring when brought to fruition.
100% of users found the task flows intuitive and easy to understand, mentioning that the interface and task flows could be easily learned after a few uses.
All users understood the product's purpose and stated how, if adopted industry-wide, the application could save time and effort while credentialing.
Users mentioned that the uncluttered, minimalist interface and universal meaning of the color indicators played a large part in helping to adapt to the platform.
Did the design facilitate trust?
Good start, but needs to be better.
When we asked users if the interface and task flows were adequate in allowing trust in ProCredEx for credible verifications, we received hesitant confirmations. Users said that the design was a good start. However, because credentialing is a largely unstructured process and individual organizations may have their own credentialing requirements to meet, additional steps would have to be taken to optimize clarity of how verifications arrived on to the exchange.
Users stressed that there were various pieces of information that were essential for credentialing checks. It'd be best if they got what they needed, and more.
Users wanted to see the criteria other credentialing specialists followed to confirm that they verified up to their own organization's standards.
A few users wondered if industry accrediting organizations would recognize ProCredEx as a primary source to pull verifications from.
Assessing the Results
The users we interviewed and tested with were highly knowledgeable about their field and regulations involved. Users didn't have trouble trusting the blockchain technology; instead, they had more difficulties trusting in the work of other professionals. Feedback indicated that our design headed in the right direction, but much more transparency into how verifications arrived onto ProCredEx would be necessary for users to be able to commit to the platform concept. Additionally, the issues of feasibility in whether or not healthcare regulators would allow ProCredEx to be considered a primary source to pull verifications from is a significant business constraint that stakeholders will need to get answers to. In order to completely trust ProCredEx for verifications, users need to know that accreditors support the platform.
More Trust and Understanding
Trust will take time to build, especially with a new resource unfamilar to users. Because ProCredEx is a specialized product for a specific subset of users, it'll be important to depend on user feedback and insights. Once the issue about whether regulating organizations will allow ProCredEx to be considered a primary source is solved, further research and rounds of testing will be necessary to flesh out design that nurtures the sense of trust and understanding necessary for this platform to be successfully adopted by the healthcare industry.
Specifically, here are two considerations that were derived directly from user feedback:
Today’s tech users have been trained to expect immediacy. However, blockchain transactions aren’t completed on the spot and will take time to process. A status indicator will provide appropriate feedback for user understanding.
Users wanted to see the specific criteria other credentialing specialists followed to perform their verifications. This visibility would help users build trust in a peer’s work and therefore, trust ProCredEx for credible verifications.
Blockchain will soon take the place of the underlying structure for many applications and services we use today; ProCredEx is just one early example. And while it’s easy to push anything technical to the engineering team, the potential human impact is too significant to ignore. There will be more user experiences that need careful design — I’m excited to help create those experiences.