Stephanie Lesperance
UX Designer with a knack for Research ⎜ 15 years+ in the Design industry

John Muir Hospital

a UX Research study about a local Health Care provider website

Project Overview

The John Muir Physician Network is a not-for-profit health care organization, known to be committed to community service initiatives. Their Network is one of the largest in Northern California, with more than 900 primary care and specialty distributed among 23 locations. 


Through findings of qualitative and quantitative searches, I presented recommendations that could improve revenues and user experience of health care practice websites through the perspective of JMH website.

This project was completed as part of a UC Berkeley Extension course.

Project type: Website  // Industry: Health Care

My Role
  • UX Researcher
  • UX Designer

What I Did:
  • Business Analysis
  • Interviews
  • Usability testing
  • Surveys
  • Prototyping

Full case study
(12 min reading)
Ad for the new Berkeley John Muir Health center
.2019, Downton Berkeley - CA

Ad for the new Berkeley John Muir Health center

2019, Downton Berkeley - CA

Why John Muir Hospital Website?

While I was looking for a new health care provider, I met several UX issues using John Muir Hospital (JMH) website, such as booking an online appointment.

These issues were interesting enough to leverage them into a study case about Health Care

UX Challenge

The UX challenge was to use mix search methods - qualitative and quantitative - to support recommendations implying working across departments, and an appropriate operating budget.

Interesting Data
Photo by Jonathan Borba

Photo by Jonathan Borba

44% of healthcare practices are not fully booked

According to a PatientPop study, that represents a loss of $118,000 per provider per year*

These numbers were significant enough to keep them in mind while doing the different searches. 

Healthcare in California

Being native from Europe, I needed to understand better how people apprehend Healthcare and what could be their special needs in a State - California - where about 40% of residents speak another language than English** (or in addition to English) at home!

Survey shows 44% of healthcare practices aren’t fully booked most days - Patient Pop, 2018

** United Census Bureau - California languages, 2013 

Qualitative metrics
John Muir Health website - as in May 2019

John Muir Health website - as in May 2019

Usability Tests

To identify problems a potential new patient could encounter using for the first time John Muir Health website, I asked participants to perform few tasks such as find if the conglomerate accepts their insurance plan, use the filter and find a practitioner, and schedule online a first appointment with a practitioner. Then I probed for additional information so that I could fully understand their thoughts and opinions of the current JMH website.


The participants have never visited JMH website before and never been one of their patient. 

Technical issues met with the Search Engine

The users said they


The Usability Test was the first step to identify several issues new patients could encounter that would likely affect the JMH website conversion:

UX + Information Architecture

  • Health plan: finding if JMH accepts their health plan was difficult. During the tests, two participants met technical issues on the website (see video on the right).
  • Search engine: the participants had issues filtering the search
  • Online scheduling: the participants commented that the lack of visual consistency (missing photo profile) made the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) looks "unprofessional".

UX Writing

  • Same-day appointment: the label "urgent care" was not understood by the participants.

“I would stick with Sutter. I want to be sure John Muir doctors accept my insurance before taking a first appointment.”
Findings - slides from my presentation

Findings - slides from my presentation

The four participants were recruited among friends and neighbors(slide from my presentation)

The four participants were recruited among friends and neighbors

(slide from my presentation)

1:1 Interviews

To evaluate these previous issues, I organized a round of four interviews to understand participants' motivations, behaviors, and needs. In our "Yelp World," it was interesting to hear that participants still prefer to refer to family, friends or, co-workers when they need to choose a practitioner.


  • Looking for if a practice accepts their health plan is the most important criteria in their decision process
  • 75% already use online scheduling (app or website)
  • 50% told the service they prefer is their doctor's website and/or App
  • 50% consult reviews website when searching for information about a practitioner (Yelp or Google Reviews). They all notified they don't necessarily trust everything they read!

Slides from my presentation

Slides from my presentation

Prioritizing issues


From those tests and interviews, I was able to prioritize issues:

  • The information architecture of the health care plan page
  • Urgent care labeling
  • Search Page Redesign
  • Generalize online scheduling

Short term projects

While the two first issues (Health care plan page and urgent care labeling) could be implemented on a short term schedule, with a minimal budget...

Long term and projects

...Redesigning the Search page and generalizing the online scheduling system to the entire JMH network would be a larger project implying working across departments and likely extra funding.

Results of the Surveys (Survey Monkey)

Results of the Surveys (Survey Monkey)

The importance of quantitative data

On a field, to convince stakeholders launching such project, I would need quantitative data to support my recommendations. I conducted then two external online surveys (Survey Monkey) to understand:

  • Patients' decision process when choosing a new care provider (sample size = 22)
  • Patients habits and opinions regarding online scheduling (sample size = 20)

Ideally, on the field, I also would conduct interviews and surveys with JMH doctors - half already using the online scheduling tool, the other half no. 

Prefer to schedule online their next appointment
Proximity with the doctor’s office in their main decision factor
Find important to speak another language than English with their doctor

Actual "Find a Doctor" Search page - JMH Website, May 2019

What people say...

In the survey, on a scale to 0 to 10, the presence of a profile photo on a doctor's website/page was noted as 2.8 (between not important to somewhat important). 

Which doesn't fit with what I observed during the usability tests!

might be different from what they do!

Once on the SERP - which is a long list of doctor profiles - all participants scrolled down - or looked several pages, and selected a doctor with a profile photo

I asked why: participants answered this doctor made them a good impression. A participant specified he found "suspicious" the doctors who didn't post theirs!


Profile photos engage users and build trust. They grant more credibility while users are seeking critical information.

Another interpretation is possible: participants of the survey might not want to admit they give importance to profile photos by fear of being judged or they simply don't have conscience they do it!

Slides from my presentation

Slides from my presentation

Online booking: a socially adopted tool

Deploying this feature to all JMH doctor network should be a top priority.

  • Qualitative and quantitative searches confirmed that participants have already adopted online scheduling for its convenience (avoid wait time on the phone, real-time availability, schedule an appointment after office hours) 

  • For 60% of the participants of the survey, such tool is a key factor in their decision process to choose a new doctor. 

Increase revenues up to $118,000

From a PatientPop study I presented earlier, we also know 44% of healthcare practices are not fully booked*, representing a loss of $118,000 per provider per year

Other interesting data to leverage

  • The first information participants are looking for on a doctor's website is the location of the medical office. Ideally, it should be close to their place or work. This information would be useful to redesign the search pages.
  • About 25% of the participants would appreciate speaking their mother tongue with their doctor. I would suggest this information should be visible on the doctors list and profile page

Some recommendations from my presentation. All these recommendations would need to be tested (usability test, A/B testing, Contextual inquiry) for future improvements.

Some recommendations from my presentation. 

All these recommendations would need to be tested (usability test, A/B testing, Contextual inquiry) for future improvements.


What I learned

This project was the opportunity to get a better overview of the Health Care Industry, and understand how UX searchers and designers might improve the way that people interact with health care. Nothing is more important - especially in Health Care - than creating efficient and consistent interactions between humans and systems.

The challenge

From the angle of John Muir Hospital website, I used different search methods to understand patients needs and habits. 

I used qualitative searches (user testing, interviews, observation) to detect a pattern (participants seem to be familiar with online scheduling). This pattern was confirmed with the two quantitative searches (participants already use online scheduling, why they use it and how they feel about it). 

On the field, combining the results of the different searches would help to convince stakeholders to improve the SERP and doctor pages - a long term project requiring funding.

What would I do differently today?

If I had to work on this project again and have access to JMH doctors network and patients:

  • Online scheduling: understand doctors’ perspective. To collect various feedback, I would include in my searches JMH doctors: 50% would use online scheduling tool, 50% don't. The goal would be to understand JMH doctors' needs and adapt marketing strategy accordingly.
  • “Find my insurance”: IA / Test the navigation: I would use an open card sorting to test the actual navigation with participant members of JMH conglomerate, some who are not. The goal would be to adapt navigation accordingly to users' needs.