Every hospital and healthcare provider in the US is exploring how to sustainably grow their business systems while still offering personalized and high touch patient experiences. Patients are expecting seamless and convenient healthcare with the ability to access information anytime, anywhere.
One of the largest health systems in the country, New York-based Northwell Health is embracing these challenges and turning them into a competitive advantage.
Phase2 and Northwell Health are driving a multi-year, multi-project overhaul of the entire Digital Patient Experience (DPX) that will impact 800 outpatient facilities, 23 hospitals, and over 72,000 members of staff.
The DPX journey began with select leaders at Northwell Health who shared a vision for delivering an exceptional patient experience: one simple, seamless experience, orchestrated to improve the lives of providers and patients alike powered by an interconnected network of systems and services. To achieve this vision, they needed to align all of the tools in their digital ecosystem on a single platform and take full ownership of the patient journey.
Incremental Improvements, Continuous Releases
To make this transformation a reality, Phase2 guided Northwell Health in the technology solutioning, from architecture through implementation. From designing a patient-centered design system and intuitive UX to the integration of over 30 systems (single-sign-on, facial recognition, booking, billing, and EHR), Phase2 created one cohesive patient journey anchored by the website and mobile app. Part of Phase2’s product approach is to eliminate “big bang” releases.
By incrementally releasing features and foundational elements, Northwell Health was able to test, learn, and refine the experience throughout the product life cycle. Each iterative launch moved Northwell Health closer to a fully custom native mobile app for both Android and iOS, which became complete and went live in January 2020.
Human-centered Research & Assessment
Throughout the Northwell Health DPX project, members of the Phase2 UX team shadowed the experiences of patients, staff, and physicians. By observing realtime behavior, the team was able to evaluate patient check-ins, follow-up, billing, and support. Hands-on research was crucial in creating a relevant and effective enterprise application. This practice proved invaluable for the overall design and assisted in garnering support from different departments and facilities.
At the conclusion of several observational research sessions, Phase2 produced a comprehensive report and roadmap to aid in the prioritization and direction of Northwell Health’s digital experience enhancements. The report served internal design and development teams as they updated Northwell.edu and introduced additional sites to the new platform.
Northwell Health released their new brand via a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, kicking off the launch with a Super Bowl ad placement. Though much attention had been paid to offline brand standards, when the DPX project began the new brand artifacts had not yet been translated to the digital realm. Phase2’s mandate was to empower Northwell Health’s digital teams to freely publish and create new properties while maintaining brand integrity across their ever-growing network. Built on the findings of the UX Review and Assessment report, Phase2 created a digital style guide and companion pattern library to enable intentional, high-quality experiences at scale.
The style guide is based on Northwell Health’s brand identity and translates the newly established design standards in a digital format. This became known as the Design Standards Initiative (DSI), leveraging Pattern Lab as the foundational technology. This component library provides an additional layer of definition for components, reusable pieces paired with production-ready code snippets, and integration into the Drupal CMS theming layer.
Today, teams grab design elements “off the shelf” from the digital style guide and build new pages with pre-approved branded design. The style guide allows Northwell Health to easily maintain a consistent look and feel across all of their sites and services.
This design system now serves as a reference point for all web design work across the organization.
Phase2 coordinates a team of over 100 people and manages several third-party vendors to make the Northwell Health DPX vision a reality. The initiative holds multiple workstreams, each with its own nuances and intricacies, and each delivering impact to both the overall patient experience and to the system’s bottom line.
Physician Search & Appointment Booking
Northwell Health prioritized the overhaul of their online appointment booking process because finding the right provider can be a stressful task during an already trying time for patients and caregivers. Data access and relevance is the most important element of the search and selection process, but it is also critical to understand how users actively and logically search.
Data access and relevance is the most important element of the search and selection process, but it is also critical to understand how users actively and logically search.
To create Northwell Health’s best-inclass search experience, Phase2 worked alongside the internal teams to develop a middleware Data Management Layer (DML).
The DML enables collection, cleaning, and augmentation of data from third party systems. For instance, associating search terms like “knee pain” with orthopedists, or displaying up to date appointment bookings to a doctor’s profile, help to refine the experience for the patient to get relevant results the first time.
Because the DML manages changes and organizes all search data, Phase2 also helped establish an ongoing governance process to enable physicians to request changes or additions and navigate the necessary approval process. With the DML, any patient search on any of Northwell Health’s channels is no longer limited by what’s stored on a third-party doctor’s, specialty center’s, or practice’s system. The result is an aggregation that synthesizes information from many sources to display the most accurate results for patients.
Custom Booking Experience
- Realtime physician availability
- Integrated pre-appointment paperwork
- “Share a Provider” Digital Referrals to boost intrasystem acquisition
A central objective of the Northwell Health DPX project was to find a balance between greater patient access, personalization, and information sharing with security concerns and HIPAA/HITECH compliance. Phase2 developed a layered approach that unlocks a deeper experience with each level of identity verification.
Anonymous users can find care by specialty, condition, location, and insurance coverage. They can read doctor profiles and reviews and pay a bill online - issued from any facility within the Northwell Health system.
Once users have verified a Northwell Health account (email and password), they are able to manage profile information, receive personalized content, and access the mobile app. For full access, Northwell Health integrated with Experian to verify patient identity and link digital account profiles to the right patient record. Patients can view past and future appointments, outstanding bills, and completed forms.
The system is accessed with a seamless biometric and Single-Sign-On (SSO) system, so patients are no longer required to remember multiple passwords for different providers.
Phase2 actively worked with Northwell Health’s HIPAA compliance team to review integrations of the mobile application and authenticated desktop experience to ensure the protection of patient PHI and adherence to HIPAA guidelines and statutes.
To deliver a better billing experience for patients, Northwell Health enlisted the experts at Phase2 to help them redesign the entire process. We started by stepping into the patient’s shoes via interviews and usability testing. How do patients feel when they receive a medical bill in their mailbox? What are they thinking as they read the bill? What do they do once receiving the bill?
Once the current state of the patient billing experience was fully understood, tangible needs emerged.
Patients should be able to:
- Understand the bill
- Pay the bill (faster!)
- Use self-service help/ support options
- Recommend Northwell Health to their friends and family
In order to achieve these goals and to alleviate confusion often associated with medical billing, Phase2 redesigned the paper and digital statements. The new notifications removed medical and technical jargon and emphasized critical information. The language shifted to care-based language and provided clear instructions and payment options.
Northwell Health’s online payment center, accessible via the authenticated single-sign-on (SSO) on their website and mobile app, is a one-stop solution for patients to not only pay their bill, but also see billing and payment history, find financial assistance, or save a credit card on file for future use. It’s a system-wide portal that handles patient billing for all of Northwell Health’s hospitals, labs, ambulances, and outpatient facilities.
Through the culmination of multiple custom development projects and unified digital systems, Northwell Health’s new app gives patients full control of their healthcare journey in an on-brand and industry-leading user experience. With the initial release, Phase2 prioritized the essentials of patient experience such as physician search, booking and managing an appointment, preappointment form filling, medical record access, and billing.
Initial app release features include:
create your profile and personalize your experience
- Tell us about yourself
- Update and view patient and insurance information
- Manage account settings and preferences
- Access FollowMyHealth to view your medical records
Plan Care With Doctor Profiles, Reviews, Insurance Info and More
- Search for top doctors and facilities near you
- Read reviews from actual Northwell Health patients
- Get info on accepted insurance plans
- Find hours, locations and directions
Book and Manage Appointments On The Go
- Schedule new appointments — for the times and locations you prefer
- Reschedule and cancel appointments
- View past and upcoming visits
Make Payments in Northwell Health's Secure Payment Portal
- View and pay bills
- See payment history
- Find financial assistance
- Save a card on file for future use
Northwell Health truly takes ownership for the patient experience with healthcare records, billing, and doctor advice, now literally in the palms of the patient’s hands. The DPX initiative helps deliver the best care to patients through connectedness, accessibility, and personalization.