How Our UX Researchers Navigate the Sticky Web of Healthcare

User Experience Jun 30, 2020

Until recently, healthcare has exclusively been conducted within the four walls of the doctor’s office. You know how it goes: we go to the hospital, register, and wait for hours -- often without really knowing why. Then finally, the nurse calls out our name, we enter the doctor’s office, aaand our appointment is done within 10 minutes.

Thankfully, m-Health (short for Mobile Health), has emerged in the last ten years and has since been breaking the rigid, offline boundaries of the healthcare industry. Halodoc, as one of Indonesia’s first purveyors of m-Health is taking on the task of chipping away at the inefficiencies in offline healthcare practices and bringing services online using mobile telecommunication and multimedia technologies.

Embarking on such an ambitious yet necessary task comes with its own set of challenges. In this article, we think of healthcare as a sticky, interweaved web. The industry is made up of different players who interact in their way; from patients, clinicians, pharmacies, to insurance providers. We have also stuck with traditional offline healthcare since the beginning, so it can be hard to make all players adapt to a new way of operating.

At Halodoc, UX researchers act as cartographers who map out the ways to navigate this sticky web. Take a peek below at how we carve out the path for Halodoc’s m-Health expedition.

#1 Be (Genuinely) Empathetic

Overused as it may be, there’s no denying that empathy is crucial when we’re researching human experiences. It’s especially true when we’re dealing with something as sensitive as one’s health concerns.

When your daily endeavor is to figure out the ‘why’s, sometimes asking questions loses its magic and it becomes just another chore. But once users allow us into their worlds, our jobs become that much more exciting again. As we strive to solve users' problems, there are endless questions that we  genuinely need to ask in our journey to understand them.

Questions as simple as ‘what triggered your last consultation?’ could lead us into a deep heart-to-heart session with our users. Of course, we get the generic ‘I caught a cold, but the OTC medicine does not work anymore,’ or ‘My kids suddenly have a fever in the middle of the night, and I got worried’ a lot. Still, every once in a while we come across users who turn to our platform for reasons that might be hard for them to talk about.

After all, even the most casual question can come out as rude or insensitive if we convey it the wrong way. Being able to empathize will not only help us build better relationships with our respondents, it also allows us to learn what we can develop, or improve from our product so that it could serve our users better.

#2 Be Holistic

In Halodoc, we cater not only to patients wanting to use our services but also the ones who make said services possible: doctors, pharmacists, insurance providers, hospitals, even midwives. Not just varying in their roles, we have spectra of demographics, pain points, and ultimately: needs.

Patients want their doctor to reply faster while on the other hand, doctors want their patients to provide clear descriptions of their problems so they can give quicker and a more accurate assessment. But how do we accommodate all of those different needs? Is it even possible to do so?

To be honest, we don't know.

This is why we try to familiarize ourselves with how things affect one another in the intertwined world of the healthcare system. Having a holistic understanding of the system will allow us to accommodate the needs of all affected users in a way that's realistically possible.

Though each users’ needs might seem different on the surface level, it’s not rare to find that deep down they are interconnected and sometimes even rooted from the same pain-points that are worded differently. It’s our responsibility as UX researchers to gather relevant information and find the common thread. Communicating not only with the patients, but also service providers, have allowed us to see the bigger picture and understand things from various points of view.

#3 Be An Advocate

Translating healthcare that has been ingrained in offline interactions to an online context is no easy task. At Halodoc, UX researchers are given the exciting opportunity to bridge this gap. As researchers, we are some of the only people with the privilege of talking directly to our users. As a result, part of our work isn’t just research — it’s also as undercover advocates for our products and users.

Whether a user is familiar or unfamiliar with m-Health, users often have questions or pain points that they want to share. Even though spoiling how our app works during a usability testing session is a big no-no, we can still address users’ concerns and educate them on our products when we can. For instance, we can answer their questions after the testing or interview has been concluded. As a result, it’s essential to know our products inside out! Even though users’ questions may not be in line with our research objectives, addressing them will make our users more confident in using Halodoc.

Asking the right questions to seek out our strengths and weaknesses also help us bring the magic of healthcare online. For example, a user might agree that our app is easy to use but linger on the home screen when asked to complete simple tasks. Digging up the “why’s” underneath these behaviors gives us insights that may otherwise go unnoticed, allowing us to advocate for users when we present to our stakeholders properly.

In observing and asking the right questions, we continuously align our product strategy to fit users’ needs. Who knows, we might convince others who are still on the fence to join the m-Health revolution with us.

#4 Be Inquisitive

As one of the first m-Health players in Indonesia, we often find ourselves in uncharted waters. Innovating to provide simplicity and ease of access to healthcare can be tricky business. As a result, we often deal with a situation where “we don’t know what we don’t know” in research.

For example, adopting a new way of accessing healthcare spawns behaviors that did not exist in our society before. Imagine 10, 20 years ago, who would have thought that we could consult with doctors in the comfort of our homes? With time, our user base expands and with it their needs and expectations as well.

That’s why we stay ahead of the curve by keeping our ears to the ground and staying curious. We try to figure out how people perceive Halodoc through offline channels such as through discussions with friends or PMs, online channels like analytics tools, and social media conversations for instance, and even peeking into our app reviews. Then, we explore these sentiments further in our research projects. Our expectations might be completely turned on its head.

On top of that, we triangulate information and collaborate with relevant teams. Even though we have a few hypotheses before conducting research, we don’t know the truth until the research ends. At Halodoc, we ask our mates in the Business Intelligence and Data Engineering teams to help us piece the puzzle that is our users, thus helping us crack problems with more fitting solutions. As researchers, we need to be creative in utilizing all channels available to us to find the right problems and tackle them, however unexpected they may be.

Where does that leave UX Researchers at Halodoc?

Halodoc is still at the beginning of its journey. As a pioneer in Indonesia’s m-health industry, Halodoc will inevitably face great, and often unfamiliar, challenges in this sticky, interweaved web that is healthcare. Similar to Halodoc’s growth, we should also expect these challenges to evolve. Consequently, UX Researchers will play a significant role in helping Halodoc map the ever-changing challenges in the m-Health landscape and analyze all the possible solutions to solve them.

We will always find more users to empathize with, more diverse users to accommodate, more pain points to advocate for, and more uncharted territories to explore.

We are always looking out to hire for all roles for our team. If challenging problems that drive big impact enthrall you, do reach out to us at

About Halodoc

Halodoc is the number 1 all around Healthcare application in Indonesia. Our mission is to simplify and bring quality healthcare across Indonesia, from Sabang to Merauke.We connect 20,000+ doctors with patients in need through our Tele-consultation service. We partner with 2500+ pharmacies in 100+ cities to bring medicine to your doorstep. We've also partnered with Indonesia's largest lab provider to provide lab home services, and to top it off we have recently launched a premium appointment service that partners with 500+ hospitals that allows patients to book a doctor appointment inside our application.We are extremely fortunate to be trusted by our investors, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, Singtel, UOB Ventures, Allianz, Gojek and many more. We recently closed our Series B round and In total have raised USD$100million for our mission.Our team work tirelessly to make sure that we create the best healthcare solution personalized for all of our patient's needs, and are continuously on a path to simplify healthcare for Indonesia.