Product Design Lead | Case Study

Reduce Chat Response Time of Medical Providers

Our Product Team

Jenny Ma, Head of Product
Maurita Antoinette, Product Design Lead
Olivia Fu, Illustrator & Product Designer
Miriam Ahn, UX Researcher


Product Design Lead: Manage, train, and lead 1 Product Designer & 1 UX Researcher


Target User’s: Medical Providers | ~3 Weeks

The Cusp was a startup that redesigned how healthcare supports women on their menopause journey and beyond. Unfortunately, The Cusp closed December 2020.

The dedicated Clinical Team consisted of 1 Head of Clinical Operations, 5 Medical Providers, and 2 Health Assistants. While they simultaneously had their own private practices, they believed in the vision of The Cusp, and committed to providing its members extraordinary care.


The goal of the project was to decrease the response time from Medical Provider to patient.


Our team needed to achieve:

1. Redesign the Medical Provider chat experience
2. Reduce patient response time
3. Increase usability & chat functionality to allow our clinical team to support patients more efficiently
4. Reduce support questions for response time through setting expectations
5. Address Clinical Team chat permissions and roles

The Problem

Design Critique & Defining problem

The previous chat experience lacked vital chat functionality and was not mobile friendly. This made it difficult for Medical Providers to use and be able to quickly respond to patients.

As a result, the Medical Providers did not want to use the chat. They were also overly dependent on the Health Assistant who notified them of new messages and when to respond. This required a lot of the Health Assistant's time that was better utilized supporting patient members.

Understanding Clinical Team Process

User Interviews Empathizing with clinical team

Although the experience was focused on Medical Providers, we made personas for the entire Clinical Team since there was a lot of overlap between their needs & painpoints.

Jessica Willis, MD
Medical Provider
Support women who are members at The Cusp through thoughtful medical care via video visits. She provides treatments like hormone replacement therapy, prescriptions, diet & life style changes, etc.
  • A simple way to view only her patient messages
  • Easily access patient chart details through Elation (Electronic Medical Record Software)  
  • One platform to access chat, patient details, & join her video visit
  • Spending a lot of time trying to find desired patient messages
  • Difficulty navigating between chat and Elation to find patient details
  • Finding previous patient medical uploads
Brenda Brown, MD
Head of Clinical Operations & Medical Provider
Manage a team of Medical Providers and Health Assistants at The Cusp to support member’s on their menopause journey. Brenda also provides care to women in The Cusp and has her own private practice.
  • Quickly filter through her patients messages
  • Manage other medical providers and their messages
  • Easily access patient chart details through Elation (Electronic Medical Record Software)  
  • Spending a lot of time trying to find desired patient messages
  • Difficulty navigating between chat and Elation to find patient details
  • Setting expectations of response time to patients.
Ashley Morris
Health Assistant
Support member’s at the Cusp by answering non-medical related questions, coordinating appointments, refilling prescriptions, and technical support.
  • A simple way to transfer messages to Elation from chat so she doesn’t have to copy and paste
  • Less communication with Medical Provider’s so she can focus on supporting patient member’s
  • One platform to access chat & patient details
  • Time consuming to notify Medical Provider’s of when they have new messages
  • Constant member questions around when Medical Provider’s will respond
  • Unclear expectations of role & permissions
Feature requests from Clinical team

From the interviews we made note of their requested features:

  • Ability to view all attachments uploaded by patients in chat or within main platform
  • Filter messages by time sensitive or Health Assistant assigned to Medical Provider
  • Request assistance from Health Assistant
  • Join video visit from chat
  • View patient chart in Elation, an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software
  • View additional patient details including: member type, membership status, & time zone
Switching Ownership of notification

Based on user interviews, we validated that the workload of constant notification to the Medical Providers was taking too much time.

Business stakeholders changed the ownership to the Medical Providers who would need to check their own chat regularly to decrease their response time and take pressure off the Health Assistant. To support this business decision our team needed to improve the chat user experience.

Defining Chat ROles & Permissions

First, we needed to define roles and permisssions for the new chat experience so we could design with the correct constraints in mind.

Brenda Brown, MD
Head of Clinical Operations & Medical Provider
Chat Role
Admin & Medical Provider
Chat Permissions
  • Access all Medical Providers and patient messages
  • Access their own patient messages
  • Same permissions as Medical Provider & Health Assistant
Jessica Willis, MD
Medical Provider
Chat Role
Medical Provider Only
Chat Permissions
  • Access only their own patient messages
  • Request Health Assistant support
  • Add messages to Elation
Ashley Morris
Health Assistant
Chat Role
Chat Permissions
  • Access all Medical Providers and patient messages
  • Triage incoming messages to Medical Providers
  • Add messages to Elation

With a deeper understanding of our Clinical Team's pain points, needs, wants, chat roles and permissions, we dived into designing a solution to make their jobs more efficient.

Design Iteration #1

Design & Test New Chat Experience

Adjust Process to Accomodate business constraints

Wireframing is an important step in the design process but every project has different needs. It was necesarry to skip steps in our design & research process so that we could accomodate the following business constraints and meet the deadline:

  • Higher priority projects
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of resources
Skip Straight to Designing Hi-Fidelity

To meet the needs of this specific project I decided our team would skip wireframing and dive straight into hi-fidility in order to save time.

Unmoderated Clinical Team interviews

With the designs completed we created a survey to:

  • Test if the Clinical Team felt it was an improved and useful experience
  • Determine if design actions they could take matched their expectations
  • Get additional questions answered about capturing more patients details & filtering

Survey Question: Overall how useful is the design for your ideal chat experience?

Extremely Useful
Very Useful
Somewhat Useful
Not So Useful
Not At All Useful

The Head of Clinical Operations and 1 Medical Provider said it was very useful and explained why below. 1 Medical Provider found it to not be so useful however they didn’t explain why.

Generating Key inSights from Synthesized survey

Key Insights From Research

The Medical Providers wanted a lot more information regarding patient member, visit, and chat details.

We also learned that a common behavior is to treat all members equally responding to messages in the order they arrived.

Design Iteration #2

Hi-Fidelity Mobile Prototype

With the details ironed out we moved on to design a hi-fidelity mobile prototype and incorporated all of the design changes needed from our testing in the first iteration.

We sent this prototype through email to gather more feedback from the Clinical Team. Since we  introduced the concept of filtering, there were some additional filters the team wanted. After these changes were made the Clinical Team was very impressed and said no further changes were needed as it satisfied all of their requirements.

Final Hi-Fidelity Designs

Quickly find patient Messages

In design iteration #2 I introduced the filters concept which originally included 'Message Categories' and 'Member Time Zone'. The Medical Providers also wanted filters for 'Visit Types' and 'Plan Types'.

An additional request from the Head of Clinical Operations was to allow only Admins to filter by 'Providers'.

Setting Response Time Expectations For patients

Above the sending messages section it was important to state the response time, business hours of operation, and emergency actions to take.

“Call 911” will open the phone app.

We reviewed this copy multiple times with our Head of Clinical Operations to make sure it followed the correct medical messaging standards.

Another request from the first design iteration was to incorporate read reciepts so that the Clinical Team would know when the user recieved the messages.

Friendly reminder To join video visit

Because of the balancing act  Medical Providers had to do with their private practices while simultaneously helping The Cusp members, a shortcut within chat to join their video visits was provided.

This was a suprise and delight moment for our Medical Providers who appreciated the friendly illustration, ease of joining, and helpful reminder to join their video visit.

signficantly more Member & Visit details

1. Member Details, main actions: reorder buttons to Video Visit, Elation Chart, and Profile
2. Member Summary, additional details: DOB & age, member ID, expiration date, state, phone number, plan type
3. Visit details: Upcoming and recent visits, current and previous visit notes, prescriptions

A design change was made from “Video” to “Join Visit” in order to clarify the action that could be taken.

Providing a space of their own

To drive engagement with the new chat experience it was important that they could control what information was shown about them.

In addition it would provide further value to patients creating a deeper connection with the Medical Providers.

Challenges & Learnings

We sent the Clinical Team a mobile prototype with updates and it was cleared for engineering to develop. Unfortunately the startup closed before we could test if the design reduced patient response time.

However, we did accomplish the other goals of the project including:

1. Improving the user experience for the Clinical Team
2. Addressing permissions & roles
3. Setting expectations of patient response time

The greatest challenge was designing quickly with out a design system. We did our best to make the experience as cohesive as possible. We created resuable and resizable components to save us time between designing for desktop and mobile.

The takeaway from this entire project was understanding the Clinical Teams process to provide the best care possible for all patients regardless of whether or not they are The Cusp members. The Clinical Team truly believed in providing equal care to all. It made me appreciate all of the preparation and hard work they do before, during, and after visits. There is a lot of information they must gather before each visit so they can provide care that is personalized and relevant. It was very inspiring to design this experience with them as they supported women during this important yet confusing time in their lives.