Role

UI/UX Consultant with Quartech Systems Ltd.

Duration

Oct. 2019 – Mar. 2020

Product

Desktop-based custom web application

What is the Book-a-Break project?

The Book-a-Break project is the redesign of a respite bed booking application that was created for the Fraser Health Authority (FHA). The redesign was initiated due to the addition of new features as well as accommodating changes in the process for booking respite care.

Respite care, for the uninitiated, is temporary relief given to caregivers. In this particular instance, the FHA offers respite care to families and individuals through respite beds that are available at various care facilities located in the Lower Mainland region of BC. The respite beds can be booked for a given length of time, and some care facilities are equipped to support specific medical needs, such as gastrointestinal tube feeding, dialysis, and ventilators. For extended stays, some care facilities are able to provide amenities such as hairdressers, dental care, television sets and wifi services.

The FHA’s vision for this project is to make respite bed booking as easy, simple, and appealing as booking a hotel.

Challenges

Despite this project being a redesign of an existing application as opposed to being a from-scratch build, the biggest challenge was making the application appealing to the client while working within the technology and time constraints.

My approach to this project was to first gain an understanding of what wasn’t working well with the FHA’s existing bed booking application. To do that, I spent a few discovery sessions with one of the booking clerks (acting as one of the project’s subject matter experts, or SMEs) to understand the current bed booking process.

Mapping out the process with the FHA booking clerks. The upper right corner of the whiteboard indicates an approval process that was streamlined as a result of this discovery session.

Working directly with the booking clerks was a positive experience as they’re the primary users of the respite bed booking application. Other identified users of the application include Home Health Clinicians, though their access is limited to viewing the information for each facility and making a booking request–a new feature that was to be included in the redesign.

Early wireframe that shows facility information while simultaneously checking its availability. One of the requested features is to show pictures and any amenities available to respite patients. The team also added in functionality for booking clerks to upload newer photos of the facility and its amenities.

In order to book a respite bed, the booking clerks match patients to facilities that are able to support any specific medical needs, in addition to finding an available bed.

Early wireframe that shows client information and specific medical needs.

Most respite care services only have a limited number of beds available at a time, and, much like a hotel, the bed needs to be vacated by a certain time to free it up for the next patient. Oftentimes, it’s easier for a booking clerk to move a patient to different beds within the same facility in order to maximize the available beds. This action was done frequently enough to earn its own affectionate term within the FHA, known as “bed tetris”.

Screenshot of the old booking application, focusing on the Bed Calendar where patients are assigned a respite bed. Each line (or row) represents a bed, and patient stays are indicated by the blue rectangles containing their names.
Clicking on a patient’s bed assignment shows details of their stay.

Though the existing respite bed booking application allowed booking clerks to view available beds and assign patients to a bed, the “bed tetris” action itself was manually done:

  • A booking clerk notes down the patients who need to be moved around within the same facility (e.g. Patient A needs to be moved to a different bed in order to accommodate Patient B)
  • The booking clerk would manually remove Patient A from an assigned bed. This would usually mean that Patient A’s details are written on a piece of paper as removing a bed assignment from a patient means deleting their bed booking from the system
  • The booking clerk would then manually add Patient B to the now vacant bed
  • Finally, Patient A is then reassigned a different bed

The booking clerks mentioned that this would happen in a best case scenario–oftentimes, multiple patients and beds are involved, complicating the process. This process was further complicated by removing a patient booking from the system and writing down details, which could lead to unnecessary errors being made.

In order to address this concern, our team suggested creating a holding area for unassigned patients who are in need of a bed. This holding area would eliminate the need for the booking clerks to write down patient details while moving patients and re-assigning beds.

Demo screenshots showing how the holding area for unassigned patients works: a booking clerk would select the patient that needs to be removed from a bed, and change his/her status to “Awaiting assignment”.
The patient would then be removed from the calendar section and dropped into the Bookings Awaiting Bed Assignment section above. Multiple patients can be held in this area.
The booking clerk can then assign an available bed to a patient. The dropdown list would populate based on what beds are still available.

During our discovery sessions, it was expressed from the booking clerks that it would be nice if they could just drag and drop patients into various bed assignments. While our team agreed that this would lend to a more enjoyable experience, it was not feasible within the project timeline. Instead, we opted for the next best option which is to update the existing information modals by adding the ability to change bed assignments as opposed to just displaying static information.

End Result

The final application was completed on time to the FHA where it was very well received. Though most design or redesign projects typically end at delivering the final product to the customer, this project was unique in that it had a hand in streamlining some of approval processes in booking a respite bed.

This project also resulted in time savings as well–as a result, the FHA was able to reallocate the time for 1.0 FTE, presumably for other duties within the organization.