the challenge

Design a better experience for Quest Diagnostics' patients
Patients need a simpler, more personalized, consistent patient experience. 

Supporting objectives
Our work is part of a bigger effort to Transform Quest into a customer-centric organization.

  • A single, consistent experience For patients and providers across all products and services

  • Constant access to information A centralized database, no matter where they’ve lived, what provider they’ve used etc. we can provide them their information

  • Faster Development Of new products for all customers

More Context In 2015 I was part of a team at Code and Theory, NYC who began work on a project to improve the patient / customer experience for our client, Quest Diagnostics.
As the largest and one of the oldest diagnostics company in the US, Quest has faced pressure to take a different approach to how they are serving their customers and patients. The pressure has come from new competitors to their industry, as well as from customers and patients who are expecting more from their healthcare providers.

We soon learned that improving customer experience meant improving the quality of services and tools not only for patients; but for clinicians and physicians who helped to administer tests and communicate the results. This project has been a fantastically rich an complex challenge to our team, who have worked closely with the Quest team as researchers, designers, and technicians.



Starting Point Early on we outlined experience principles that would guide our work. 
As we talked about bringing transparency, insights, actionable information and easy to use tools to customers, we knew we’d really needed to be empathetic to Quest’s business, their industry, and their customers...and we’d need to learn a lot about the complex challenges they faced. 

We immediately identified that before our work began we wanted to join our client for on-site research. 



The Quest team came with us as we spent 4 days visiting over 15 locations where tests were administered, and labs where samples were processed. The experience was invaluable. We spoke with healthcare providers (HCPs) about their experience in working with Quest, and working with patients.

We learned first hand just how stressed physicians and clinicians could be as they worked, and how some features, like an alert if a test result is late, were desperately needed to ease the health care provider’s workload.
We also learned that many patients were not clear on who Quest was or that resources existed online which helped patient’s check on test results and understand how to manage health issues like high blood pressure.
On a very tactical level, we identified many opportunities to improve the clarity of information being shared by Quest to both patients and healthcare providers.
Getting our blood drawn, getting test results and bills; all of this made the challenges and the emotional impact of it all very tangible.


Consolidating Learnings

We brought our learnings from research back to the Quest team as user journeys. 
We mapped these journeys against patient and health care provider concerns and associated them with touch-points in experience maps. 

We also layered journeys into service blueprints. These service blueprints were very valuable to our team’s work. We mapped user touch-points against the services and software Quest was providing to their customers and started to see some surprising overlaps and gaps in care. 
When we found overlaps in touch-points among different software products, we were able to recommend that these be consolidated into a single tool. When we identified gaps and brought them back to the team in multiple co-design sessions that brought together their teach, product, business and strategy teams from multiple offices across the US.

We then voted on what issues we wanted to address and sketched what some of the solutions might look like. We left this phase of work understanding where our teams wanted to focus efforts. We also came out with an understanding of some of the modules and features that we could start working with to improve customer journeys. 

We made a bold decision:
We decided our first step in improving the patient experience would actually be to improve the tools clinicians and physicians used to provide care. Physician and Clinician experiences were the foundation of patient experience!


Material Layer 

We explored two visual design directions and Quest quickly went with green palette as something that extended some darker greens that had already been in use. Along the way a few ideas truly shaped our visual design approach: Important information and infographics needed to be readable at a glance to support HCPs fast paced work.

We’d need to darken some of the bright lime green colors if we wanted to use them on icons with a white background; otherwise they became too hard to see at a distance.
Due to the quantity of information we sometimes needed to display, our use of color and visual design was highly functional: indicating grouped information, ability to drill down into more detail, and making it easy to visual discern that test information the status of a workflow or test result was positive, or an issue was present that required attention.

Quest wanted to avoid reds and yellows in their visual designs- these were too visceral a reference to the samples they dealt with.


Design Sprints 

Our work began with improving one of the key HCP tools: a web application that would allowed them to order tests for patients and see test results. Our work actually involved combining two existing web applications: on a features level, and on a backend technology level. We used modular and atomic design to build the application from the inside out. 

Our work began with defining features based on what we’d learned in research, and what we’d targeted as most critical to improving experience through use of our experience map, service blueprint, and team work sessions. We expressed features through modules and pages of the interface through workflows. 

Some of the most important modules were the patient card and the test card. These two items were basically the core of everything we worked with, and other groupings of modules and pages acted as supporting context to that information.


As we worked we kept reminding ourselves of the experience pillars we’d originally outlined. We kept asking ourselves: 
-Is it easy to use? 
-Is there helpful transparency of information here?
-Are we showing data in a way that is actionable? 
-Are we providing the insights Quest has around testing and handling results when it’s most helpful to HCPs?

Modular / Atomic design was perfect for Quest. There are bundles of information that we can see will appear across multiple tools for patients and HCPs.



Our final efforts provided Quest with a new web application for HCPs. Some of our prized capabilities included:

  • A first time user experience that introduced users to the new interface

  • A dashboard that helped them have an instant overview of important test information like total number of tests being processed and number of results available.

  • An easier test ordering workflow

  • Clearer representations of patient information

  • Notifications that alerted users to test results that were out of range, indicating a clear need to follow up with patients.

Rolling out new tools in the world of medicine takes time!
While our work began in September of 2015, the first version of our work is being piloted in a small number of physician practices for the first 8 months. In the meantime, the design team has started to work on additional features to be rolled into the next release. The team has also started work on the next step with Quest: improving tools for patients. The adventure continues!