Effective Ambient UX Thrives on Context

Healthcare designers and technologists have been wrestling with how to improve the user experience of their products and services for years. A well-designed user experience can help healthcare organizations improve productivity for caregivers and increase adoption of information systems and patient satisfaction. The next phase of this journey is ambient user experience, which simply defined, is “design applied to the context in which users get things done,” according to Andrew Maier, cofounder of UX Booth. This allows systems and devices learn and adapt to user needs based on specific situations, location and context of use.

The convergence of several technologies, including mobile devices and apps, cloud infrastructure, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, is helping make ambient UX a reality. Sensors, for example, are already embedded in many technologies and devices we use today and increasingly work in concert to provide insights about users and their daily patterns.

Whether as a virtual assistant on your phone sending an alert about a traffic jam ahead or an intelligent thermostat lowering the temperature at the time when you typically leave for the day, products incorporating ambient UX are proactive and adaptive. They can solve or prevent problems people may not be aware of otherwise. In healthcare, it might work like this: A diabetic patient receives a call from a nurse when her glucose levels are too high, as tracked by a connected wearable device. That action alone could prevent an expensive, inconvenient trip to the hospital for this patient.

The mesh of these devices—including mobile, wearable, consumer and home electronic devices—expands the points at which caregivers and clinicians can access information about patients or interact with them. For example, ambient user experience technology that monitors patients at a long-term care facility might employ a mix of devices to keep them safe, including a door sensor, a wearable device, a smartphone, a camera and a GPS tracker.

Context Is Key to Ambient UX

Without user context—such as time, place and patient vitals—ambient UX can’t deliver upon its core value of delivering a timely recommendation or automated action. Information should appear at the right time, in the right place, in the right context and on the right device to make a difference. For example, Wellness Checkpoint is a health questionnaire that delivers content which dynamically adapts to the user’s region, language and answers to produce the ideal health guidance.

How Roles Affect Ambient UX Design

A clinician may care most about a dashboard that shows the real-time relationship between treatments and outcomes for individual patients. Conversely, the CFO is looking for intelligence to manage and reduce costs. She may want an app that alerts her when facilities are falling behind on revenues and that suggests causes and near-term remedies. Role-based preferences and considerations should be captured and incorporated into the design of products.

By integrating the preferences and needs of people with the context that matters most to them, ambient user experience can improve patient care and tracking, prevent adverse outcomes and give caregivers the tools they need to work faster and smarter.

Read our white paper t9 learn more about design for the ambient user experience.

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