Ask the experts: Talk with Kishan (Design & Human Factors Lead)

UX Talk with Kishan

Ask The Experts

A new milestone, UXness has initiated a step to connect with experts and understand their thoughts on certain topics. Directly connecting with experts and hearing from their own words, doesn't it sound interesting? Yes it is. In this series, please welcome UX Expert - Kishan Salian (Design & Human Factors Lead). 

Expert Bio

Kishan Salian UX Lead

 Kishan Salian

Design and Human Factors Lead
Laerdal Bangalore LLP

I have been working with Laerdal Bangalore LLP from the last 2 years as Design and Human Factors Lead. My primary role has been to build and manage a team of talented UI and UX designers, Propose a robust UX roadmap which includes setting UX vision, align with stakeholder goals, and prioritizing ideas for the projects. I have over 15 years of combined experience in User Experience and UI Design and hold a master's degree in Interaction Design. I have mainly worked in the area of User Experience, User-Centered Design, Ubiquitous Computing, Child Computer Interaction, and Web Accessibility.

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Designing for Healthcare and Post Pandemic 

Q. You have an amazing experience of crafting design solutions for various domains, how the healthcare domain is different from all when it comes to user experience design? 

I'm fortunate to have an opportunity to work in various domains from retail, banking, insurance, to travel throughout my career. I have been working as a Design Manager crafting experiences in the area of education in healthcare. It has been the most exciting and challenging experience while working for the medical and healthcare domain. 

Designing for healthcare can be different from other domains as the design solutions provided could directly or indirectly impact the lives of the people around us. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) (6) has estimated that nearly 138 million patients witness harm caused by medical errors every year, in medium and low economic status countries (including India) (WHO, Medication Without Harm). A Harvard study by Prof Jha (7) says that 5.2 million medical errors are happening in India annually. Similarly, the British Medical Journal quoted that India like any other developing country is recording a lot of medical errors. 

It becomes very important for the user experience practitioners to take up the initiative of understanding the healthcare domain, identify the critical problems through rigorous user experience research, and carefully craft the best solutions to match the end-users mental model. 

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Q. What is the role of user experience in the healthcare domain for crafting a better experience? 

A major shift that has been noted in the area of healthcare from a process-centric to a patient-centric approach. The user-centered design approach has been seen as the future of healthcare. Empathy will play a key role in closely relating to healthcare professionals and connecting with patients while designing the best experiences. There is a huge opportunity for designers to design an ecosystem of care. The designers have to take into consideration a few points while crafting the best experiences.

Design for clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness

Beyond any respective domains, a designer should always take into consideration the various facets of the user experience like useful, usable, desirable, valuable, findable, accessible, and credible. When it comes to designing for healthcare there are few of these facets that could weigh more than others. 

Bansi Mehta (1) has wonderfully explained that a UX designer must keep that in mind, especially in healthcare, the design needs to work like a scalpel and not like a Swiss knife, i.e. the design needs to be simple and intuitive and not distracting. The UX designer must resist the urge to over-design. The design should not overburden the healthcare professionals with the cognitive load which may cause someone to commit grave mistakes. 

The applications at its core should adhere to a few factors like being usable, findable, and accessible while other facets could support based on the context of use within healthcare. The situation in which healthcare professionals work could be quite intense and stressful and they need the technology to assist them in their work. The designs should be simple, easy to use, assist efficient decision making, and effectively fulfil the most critical goals of the users.

Design with regulations

The overall user experience process followed to provide design solutions in healthcare could be similar to other domains. An organization could adopt a traditional or double diamond process that could suit their pattern of work. 

What sets apart is for the designers to strictly adhere to the usability standards like Ergonomics of human-system interaction (ISO 9241-11:2018), Medical devices — Part 1: Application of usability engineering to medical devices (IEC 62366-1:2015) and Medical electrical equipment - Part 1-6: General requirements for basic safety and essential performance - Collateral standard: Usability (EN 60601-1-6) when it comes to designing from digital applications to medical devices. 

The first standard Ergonomics of human-system interaction (ISO 9241-11:2018) explains each component in the definition of usability and assists in interpreting it correctly: “the extent to which a system, product or service can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use”. Similarly, the second and third standard focuses more on applying process like analysis, design, verification, and validation of usability while developing the medical devices which is related to patient safety.

Andreea Popescu in her article "The UX process for healthcare apps" (3), suggested that we should consider the internal processes at a human level like wage sanctions, loss of work, and/or legal actions along with standards followed while developing software and medical devices.

Design with care, responsibility, and patience

It is very important for each individual in the team (designer, developer, product manager, domain experts) need to work together to build the solutions. The design team should work towards building experiences that are empathic towards patients and their wellbeing. 

Chris Kiess has rightfully written in his article (4), as designers, we will need to carve out our own niche with design becoming a greater part of care delivery. We’ll move beyond designing a feature, a product, or even a singular experience. We need to change our approach and begin designing systems of care.

It is also critical for the designers to practice responsible design and their solutions should be derived from intense user experience research and closely understanding the core problems. The situation for designers could be difficult and frustrating while conducting research or validating the solutions due to various reasons as the healthcare sector could be very unpredictable. The designer should have a high level of patience and plan the overall research and user interactions smartly. 

One of the articles published in YUJ Designs (5) highlights the UX designers should practice responsible design and enable businesses, organisations, and healthcare professionals to use all the tools available to them effectively. It could be achieved by applying a data-driven design approach.

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Q. What do you think about the user research activities in the post-pandemic world? Will technology play a role in that? 

The current unprecedented situation has bought many uncertainties across the globe and it has impacted the way user research is conducted. I believe the user experience field has well-developed research techniques that support various levels of research activities from in-person to remote. Researchers have been using various technological tools to support their research making it easier for eliciting meaningful insights and providing easy access for the team to take actionable decisions. 

Organization and Research Group Perspective:

Many companies and research groups have already modified the way they conduct research activities in the current situation. The difference could be the overall strategy in which the research could be conducted in the future. The overall budget could be closely reviewed which could lead to a reduction in the spending’s for the overall research activities. The dependency on research techniques like "unmoderated user testing", "diary writing", “remote user interviews” could increase in the coming days to control the overall budget spent on product research. 

The organisations could go into the extent of outsourcing some parts of the research and maintaining a small in-house research team. The organisations have already been opting for these services for assisting them in conducting research activities. The focus will shift more towards the optimised research delivering higher value to the organisation. 

A fine balance will be needed to be maintained between the lean approach in product-oriented research and a small agile research team for exploring opportunities that could bring far better value to the company. The lean research approach will help to maintain the current product in the market as well as a small agile research team could assist in breaking smaller grounds in the area of innovation within their respective market. It will have better chances of yielding a better return on investments for the organisations.

While most of the activities could be planned to be conducted remotely, there can be some unavoidable situations to conduct in-person user research. The testing medical devices, wearables, and the unique context of use could be some scenarios where researchers have to set in-person field studies for eliciting information and insights. 

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One of the most noted independent user experience companies UX alliance has been researching in the area of "UX Safety Tips for in-person research" (8). The research suggests an innovative way of setting up user research labs, sanitisation of equipment, and steps to ensure the safety of the users and research teams to conduct successful research sessions in the current situation and post-pandemic world.  

Researcher and Designers Perspective:

We are going through one of the worst pandemic situations which could give rise to many knowns and unknowns. The post-pandemic world could bring change in the way we interact with each other, the environment of work, approach in which business is conducted, etc. 

This is a unique opportunity for the researchers to be in the center of change and guide the organisations to reposition their products and services to be more relevant to their users and market. 

Tom Hayes, UX researcher, UserZoom has written in "The role of UX research now and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic" (9) that user experience practitioners need to closely identify the change in user behaviour on how the user interacts with the product.

As researchers, we have a great responsibility to highlight the value of our research through effective strategy and efficient decision making. We have to be the torchbearers to guide the organisations through the unknown times. This could be possible through user-centered research with keen observations, constant insights, robust and proactive reporting.


  1. Why lives depend on design decisions – UX in healthcare - by Bansi Mehta.
  2. Medical Device Usability: Highlights of European Regulations and Standards
  3. The UX process for healthcare apps by Andreea Popescu
  4. Healthcare UX: a journey just begun
  5. Top UX challenges in healthcare industry
  6. The third WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm - by WHO
  7. 5.2 million medical errors are happening in India annually: Dr Girdhar J. Gyani
  8. Webinar on safety tips for in-person research by UX Alliance
  9. The role of UX research now and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

UX Quote by Kishan Salian

Interview with Kishan is also published in UXness first UX Magazine. Download the UX Magazine FREE

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