Wicked Problem_Ironhack: Transformation of the end-to-end experience in public hospitals

UX designers often face the challenge of solving complex problems that lack clarity or that often involve multiple solutions. These complex problems are known as “wicked problem”. The method of design thinking is one way to find a feasible solution.

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash.

Technology is changing the way we interact with each other. Many processes and tasks that required a long time to do in the past are now as simple as pressing a button. Nevertheless, there are areas such as public hospitals where the implementation of technology is progressing very slowly, negatively impacting patient experience.. This raises the question:

A team of four people (Ron, Franzi, Mathieu and me (Anna)) worked on this wicked problem. The duration of the Project was seven days. To better understand the problem, various methods were chosen including secondary research, user interviews, affinity diagram, empathy map, user persona, user journey and concept sketching.

The result of the case study is a low-fidelity prototype. The idea is to create a solution which helps people navigate through the hospital campus and get admitted efficiently.

The Research methodologies

The project was worked on according to the design thinking process. In each phase, different methods were used:

Research Framework.


In the empathize phase we strived for to find out the users´ pain points, needs, and behaviour to improve the user experience. We used secondary research and user interviews for this.

Before creating the interview questions, we looked for existing data from a variety of sources. The results of the secondary research revealed that patients often complain about long registration processes, long waiting times in the emergency department, and lack of access to treatment information.

In-depth interviews were conducted to obtain more insights from the respondent about their experience in the public hospitals. The questionnaire contains a total of 6 questions about the general experience in public hospitals and what the person wished to have as support at that moment. A total of 5 people participated in the interviews, including three women and two men. The average age of the users is 30 years.

Demographic data.


After the interviews were transcribed, the project entered the define phase. This phase was about analysing and visualizing the data. An affinity diagram was used to cluster the results, revealing trends and relationships in the data. The empathy map helped us to categorize the users’ testimonials into attitudinal and behavioural data. Here, the users’ pain points and needs became visible.

Affinity Diagramm (left), Empathy Map (right).
Examples of insights.

How Might We (HMW) statements were used to form short statements from the insights that begin with the phrase “How might we…” and end with a possibility.

How might we statement.

User Persona

Our user persona, Active Alexa, is a fictional female character that is the summarized result of the user data from the interviews. She tells the background story and represents the frustrations as well as the needs of the users.

User Persona

User Journey

The User Journey describes the process of an emergency in which Alexa visits a hospital. In the process, she passes through several stages of an emergency, which challenges her emotionally and leaves her with some unanswered questions. These helped my team come up with opportunities.

User Journey


After the goals, frustration as well as motivation of the users became clear, ideas for the product (prototype) were developed. Using various methods e.g Crazy 8s, the ideas were first collected and then sketched out as concepts. The result was a low-fidelity prototype, which we used for concept tests.

Concept Sketches


In this phase, the design is validated, and possible improvements are collected. For this purpose, we conducted tests with three users.

Concept sketch first iteration, (sketch credit: Ron).

We used the feedback to improve the prototype. There were questions about the icons as well as suggestions for improvement. For instance, the functions behind the PLUS icon and % information were not clear. The suggestions for further features were a live waiting time in ER and profile scanning before registration. We implemented the feedback on the icons, which resulted in a new concept sketch. The PLUS icon has been replaced by a “Choose hospital” button and a description has been added to the percentages. Due to the lack of time, we could not perform further concept tests.

Low-fidality wireframe: User flow of registration, (sketch credit: Ron).

The Results and Next Steps

Using the design thinking process, we were able to identify the biggest pain points. Navigating the hospital campus and finding the right department is often stressful. The admissions process at registration is lengthy and not fluid. Furthermore, we have thought about the difficulties we may face. The different processes in the hospitals are definitely a challenge. As a solution to the wicked problem, we tried to develop a simple product. Our solution allows patients to save time and hospitals to better organize their resources. In a next step, the ideas already developed could be further elaborated and usability tests could be carried out.

Thank you for your time!♥

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