PINGMD is a New York-based startup that offers a safe, easy way for healthcare providers, their colleagues, and their patients to communicate and collaborate via smartphone. The company was cofounded in January 2010 by two physicians—Dr. Gopal Chopra and his wife, Dr. Manju Chopra—who have first-hand knowledge of the gaps and inefficiencies in communication between healthcare providers and patients. For example, doctors nationwide spend up to three hours a day on the phone. Many of these calls involve fielding questions from concerned patients asking about symptoms. The consults can be so time-consuming and often the patient cannot even reach the doctor as they are so busy, resulting in them spilling over to the web or worse, the ER. The first version of PINGMD, which launched a few years ago, was based on the idea that many of these concerns could be addressed through quick, secure messages (text with photos or videos). It offered a mobile iOS platform through which doctors and patients could communicate. After a successful beta test that provided valuable insight into the workflow habits of patients and providers, the company set out to expand the capabilities of the platform. Redesigning communication for effective care collaboration.
We came up with this comprehensive solution through human-centered design. Our first step was to identify and address the different needs and priorities of physicians and patients/caregivers. Next, we pared down the app for simplicity and ease of use. Our team spent time with patients and at medical facilities to determine what was wanted and needed from the service. Patients wanted quick response times; doctors wanted tools that would make it easy to provide those speedy replies. Both parties sought trustworthy, clear, and accurate information. The key differentiation was they all wanted to activate networks without increasing the task burden of a busy day and do this by breaking down the silo barriers with current solutions.
The new version of PINGMD, released in May 2013, has already increased its installed base, thanks to improved user satisfaction among doctors and patients and enabling network collaboration.
PINGMD dramatically speeds up physicians’ replies to caregivers. Whereas the average response time on email and other secure messaging systems is about 72 hours (because the message is routed through an administrator to the doctor), the average response time on PINGMD is only an hour. The act of sending a reply takes only about a minute. When communicating with peers, doctors and healthcare providers mean response times dropped to 10 minutes.
Other new features address varied doctor and patient needs. For physicians, HIPAA-compliant safeguards (the app logs out users after idle time), and enhanced network-management tools. For patients, PINGMD provides a similar user orientation with the ability to choose a physician, ping symptoms with picture and video, and manage the care of multiple family members.
Patients and care providers are collaborating and growing their networks to make their care management communications efficient and effective.
Rapid prototyping and feedback helped us achieve the final design. The team created prototype screens to gather input every day, sometimes live-streaming user feedback sessions via the web in order to iterate designs in real time. We worked through 10 iterations in all, allowing for the development of “PINGMD 2.0,” which addresses the user experience needs of both physicians and patients in a meaningful, efficient way.