This is a research project in which Cerner is interested in how college students interface with the Health Care system. More specifically, Cerner is interested in what hurdles they encounter when engaging with the Health Care system and how/if they’ve overcome these hurdles all together.
- Research data to help inform Cerner’s UX team on how to approach college students and their lack of/increased interaction with the health care system.
- Understand how to approach college students and their lack of interaction with the health care system and develop an appropriate solution.
I lead the team through our user journey mapping activity in addition to contributing to the rest of the research approaches. I felt that it was important to focus on how we can better understand and appreciate our user.
What I Learned
This project taught me how important it is to understand the user. In order to answer the research, question we were given by Cerner we needed to really understand our users. We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of different users to understand what they felt and wanted.
The expert interviews allowed us to gain a basic understanding of how college health centers operate and gave us another potential area of exploration, in the form of age groups. The student interviews and survey allowed us to reach a saturation point with data about student’s experiences and stories about healthcare. Below are the takeaways from each respective method.
- Communication with students is limiting and challenging
- College Health Center offers many free or low cost services
- The primary services that students use are appointments with providers, chronic allergy management, and immunizations
- Appointments must be booked online, a common requirement that students often ignore
College Student Survey
- Going to the school health center is the last resort for students when they're sick. They'll do other preventive measures such as taking OTC medicine, rest, drinking fluids, calling their primary care provider, and other methods.
- Issues with the school health center prevent students from considering visiting or returning. These issues include insurance, scheduling, or receiving wrong diagnoses
- Majority of female students said health is a top priority and take actions to maintain their health. They claim they exercise and eat healthy regularly
- Students claim they get sick a few times a year often due to stress from academics
A majority of students have visited the campus health care center at least once, but some have never been. Those who have been were for an illness, vaccination, or physical
We looked into several studies and journals written on this topic and summarized our findings below.
College Health is Important
The college years (18-24) are some of the most crucial years to maintain your health and the things you do during those years will affect your health as you age. However, college students are not taking all of the necessary actions to maintain their health.
College students deal with a great amount of stress. Stress in college students is one of the leading contributors to poor health and has serious consequences for both their physical and emotional health.
Wellness in not Linear
Campus health programs need to focus on all different aspects of wellness to be effective towards students.
After we closed the survey and finished conducting interviews with current students, we brought all of that data together utilizing Affinity Diagramming, a process used to visually show relationships between different sets of information. We were able to group the survey data along with the interview data into several thematic categories.
We discovered four major themes from our affinity diagram.
Students will avoid their on-campus health center due to receiving wrong diagnoses themselves or hearing about it from their peers
Due to logistical issues, such as finding time between classes to visit, many students just decide not to visit. Those who do tend not to return (unless they are managing a chronic condition)
Many students have misconceptions that their on-campus health center is for extreme cases only, not a free resource you can visit
There is a disconnect in the communication of various services and students' perception
Based on our interviews and the data we collected from our survey, we were able to identify issues which formed the base characteristics for our personas. We found common patterns in motivations and actions students take during affinity diagramming, and incorporated the different levels into our personas. We created these personas to better understand and empathize with students, as well as give our sponsors at Cerner an idea of what students' habits, motivations, and frustrations are like.
Skeptical of health center
Health is a priority
Health center is last resort
User Journey Map
To understand their emotional journey, we used each persona's motivations to plot points along the journey. We also began to develop a story for each persona. We made educated guesses on what they would do and how they would feel emotionally at each step in the map based on common patterns in actions or feelings of students from our primary research.
Using the themes, insights, and pain points we discovered from affinity diagramming, we began user journey mapping. We began by outlining the different general steps of the sickness process, from the lifestyle of the student to the actions they take along the way when they get sick to the eventual resolution of getting better.
Based on all of our varying research, from interviews to a survey to secondary research, and our analysis of that research, we found that despite students' self-belief of giving high priority to their health, the on-campus health center was always their last resort when it came to monitoring and improving their health, preferring the advice of family and primary care providers instead. Many students are unaware of the services their on-campus health center provides and that they are relatively free or low-cost. This situation was not helped by the rather widespread bad reputation that on-campus health centers are incompetent and not worth the time and hassle.