Alexia Yang
Alexia Yang
Designer | Los Angeles, CA

EMR Data Visualization Tool


about the company

Patient Insight is an early-stage health-tech startup that focuses on developing solutions and analytics that improve the effectiveness of physicians at the point-of-care.


User interface design


April 5 - 15, 2016

CONTEXt & Challenge

In spite of a universal trend towards user centered design, many facets of the healthcare industry still struggle to keep up with this progression towards usability, leaving physicians and patients interacting with tools that sacrifice intuitiveness and ease-of-use for raw functionality. EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are an essential part of a physician’s day-to-day, but between a lack of interoperability between systems and usability that does not match actual clinical workflows, they can prove to be an unexpected source of struggle.

Patient Insight’s goal was to create a visualization tool that leverages the existing EHR system as a data warehouse, reorganizing and displaying complex patient health data in a compact, intuitive way. As a UI Designer, I was brought in to the team to help on design a new EHR concept. We had a span of roughly two weeks before we would deliver a presentation to Kaiser Permanente in order to secure further funding and support.


design process


— key pain point —


While modern EHRs provide all the functionality a physician needs during a patient’s visit, it can take numerous intermediate steps to complete tasks that sometimes do not directly relate to the care of patients or tasks that would be more efficiently if done by the physician’s assistants. In practice, this monolithic structure introduces a lot of down time in a physician’s process, resulting in a reduction of the number of patients they are able to see in a day, or in certain situations, timely access to time-critical information.

Speed is everything, changing direction is easier than stopping.
The technology should be invisible, helping us instead of hindering us (the physicians).
The future EHR should help a care team whose goal was health, not health care, and who, along with the individual, have access to all the data.

Patient Insight’s goal was not to create an entirely new EHR system — rather, we sought to take the existing system and synthesize a tool that streamlines out the complicated features and functions of the existing system and to reorganize the displays of relevant health information in order increase productivity and facilitate compliance for health care providers. Based on the observation and study of real, day-to-day workflows and patient encounters, we regrouped a physician’s tasks and broke them up into four major functionalities: Patient Summary, Timeline, My Notes, and Record Locator.



— wireframe —

Record Locator.png

— design —


After brainstorming, iterating, and interviewing a health management consultant and emergency physician, I developed two principles that embodied what I sought to achieve with my design:

  1. A clean and minimalist design for effective text-heavy information display.

  2. A limited use of color to allow even attention to all information and avoid distraction.


Patient Summary

The decisions physicians make are based on examinations, an overview of a patient’s symptoms, as well as a patient’s medical history. Beyond simple inefficiency, it could be dangerous to a patient’s health if the information on their EHR is not properly displayed. To increase clinical efficiency, I grouped the health data into related clusters, highlighting only relevant information in order to:

  1. Keep track of a patient’s care plan with filters by specialty.

  2. Alert doctors of items that are past due and in need of action.

  3. Provide a quick overview for the biomarkers and tracking over time.

  4. Allow direct access to family history and Care Team summary.

Furthermore, instead of traditional tabs, I presented them in tiles to help physicians digest a variety of information effectively and make comprehensive decisions based on a broader overview of a patient’s records.




Beyond a patient’s heath data, their health history also plays an important part in helping physicians make their diagnostic decisions. I designed a scrollable time table that visualizes a patient’s treatment, hospitalization, symptoms, and other relevant information, which is displayed in chronological format in order to better visualize a patient’s health over time in a natural, intuitive way.



My Notes

Time consuming data entry interferes with face-to-face patient care, and so the Term Navigator was designed to help physicians input their encounter as easily and intuitively as jotting down notes on a piece of paper by utilizing handwriting recognition and the Natural Language Processing Engine, which helps find the most common terms across numerous categories. For easy and fast identification, I color labeled selected categories and used bubble sizes to directly correlate commonality of each keyword.



Record Locator

The Record Locator was designed to allow physicians to find older records of a patient. For consistency, I used the same design treatment as the Patient Summary, displaying data and records in separated into tiles for better clarity and for a broader overview of the information.



It was an intense but exciting two week experience. Designing for a specific profession was by far the most challenging aspect of the project, as there is already an established language that physicians use in their industry, in addition to the volume of new information I had to learn. Speaking with the emergency physician and listening to what the health management consultant had to share from their work experiences with physicians helped me understand the workflow issues that are at the root of many EHR usability problems. However, I believe we had only scratched the surface of the subject. Every department has their own workflow and unique healthcare needs. For example, the workflow of a primary care provider who sees a number of patient every day would be very different than a specialist who treats fewer patients daily, but may require extra attention for each patient.

There are still many things to learn about physicians and their work before designing a more competent tool for their daily use. It was unfortunate that the Patient Insight project did not go through, but at the same time, the process of designing for it helped me realize how much of positive impact the synthesis of design and technology could have for the healthcare industry at large.