Designing the fastest way to confirm a patient’s coverage
When a Delta Dental member visits a dentist, the dentist’s office must first confirm the patient’s insurance coverage. They do this using Delta Dental’s Provider Tools offering. The first step is finding the patient in Delta Dental’s databases. This case study demonstrates how I designed this experience.
"We only have time for the patient, not the insurance."
Dental providers don’t have extra time and especially not for anything that isn’t treating a patient. Before this project, many providers would spend up to 30 minutes with Delta Dental’s contact center to confirm a patient’s dental coverage. All this means we can not design anything that would slow down a workflow, especially at the first step.
What’s in it for Delta Dental? With the frequency that providers are calling contact centers, we had the opportunity to cut costs by way of offering the same information, which already exists in online databases, on Delta Dental’s Provider Tools offering.
The design process
Pursuing the simplest idea, finding technology to support it, and testing it along the way
Our research informed our original design concept: a single search. The data revealed that there was no provider-centric purpose for separating the searches to organize them. Providers simply identify patients as Delta Dental patients and need to find them in our databases.
I ideated various design solutions including tabbed searches, explicitly communicating searches, and a “smart” single search. The “smart” single search addressed the pain-points in providers’ workflows which entailed removing the need to find the correct search. However, our technology and privacy limitations would limit our ability to achieve this right away.
As a result, my team and I pursued the tabbed search design. This would allow an experience similar experience to a single search by consolidating the two major searches to the same place in Provider Tools, while not forcing the backend to consolidate the technology.
Designing a faster “car” with the same “engine”
Organizing search to progressively disclose search nuances
In the previous iteration of the design, there were two searches: national search and enterprise search. National search searches the various Delta Dental databases like Delta Dental of New Jersey and Delta Dental of Michigan. These don’t belong to the “Delta Dental enterprise” which include Delta Dental of California and Delta Dental of Pennsylvania and other, often coastal, Delta Dentals.
We learned that the existing seperation of the search didn’t matter. This was found from an early concept test where we hypothesized that it didn't make practical sense and many providers said they simply need to find their patients.
Using the car analogy, if something goes wrong, most people then, and only then, would call someone. Otherwise, calling just feels like an unnecessary step.
Finding, keeping, and managing a patient
A reusable design component to inform and perform multiple details and tasks
The next things that most providers use Delta Dental’s Provider Tools is check the patient’s eligibility and benefits or submit a claim. We learned this from foundational research where we studied what were the most important tasks outside of direct patient care.
For incoming patients, providers check their eligibility and benefits to calculate cost.
For patients who completed a visit, providers then submit a claim.
The challenge was figuring out how to make that experience seamless from the point of finding the patient in Provider Tools and treating the patient. I did this buy designing a reusable component to represent a patient in patient tools. This would allow providers to easily recognize a patient and perform tasks for them.
The latest design
The foundation for future iterations
No design is every done. With any "final" design, the most important qualities are that it confidently serves your users' needs and lays the groundwork for future designers to iterate as they learn more specific user needs. This is the Delta Dental Patient Search's version of that.