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Bringing the Users on Board for Schulthess Klinik’s New Website

Involving those affected: In our web projects, we follow Human Centered Design (HCD) principles from the outset. In our interview, Enrico Manzanell, Head of Marketing and Communication at Schulthess Klinik, and Katja Dreher, Senior User Experience Architect at Unic, talk about why and how patients and referring physicians were included in the HCD process for the relaunch of

A New Look for Schulthess Klinik

On November 30, 2018, the Schulthess Klinik website was relaunched with a new look. Why did need an overhaul?

Enrico Manzanell: There are several reasons. On November 30, 2018, Schulthess Klinik launched a completely new brand identity. Obviously, the design of the website also had to be adapted to the new brand. In addition, the old website was based on a completely outdated content management system, was not fully responsive and not very user friendly in terms of navigation.

Only six months passed between the initial contact with Unic and the go live for the website. Why did the project have such a short timeline?

Enrico Manzanell: This also had to do with our rebranding. We launched our new brand identity within a year, so the timeline for the relaunch project was even shorter. We had to define our new corporate design first to be able to start on the website. However, the result did not suffer one bit from the limited time available. On the contrary, our new website has been a complete success in every way.

We stopped looking at the world from an internal point of view – the ‘org chart view’ – and created a website with user centric pathways.

Human Centered Design – Understanding End Users

The structure and setup of the new website are based on the needs of patients and referring physicians. What are the defining characteristics of these two user groups?

Katja Dreher: Patients and referring physicians both come from a very specific context and have diametrically opposed sets of questions regarding the treatment process. They have different goals and tasks, so they expect different things from this website. While patients use the website to obtain information at different points of their treatment process, referring physicians are often looking to consult with specialists.

Why was it important to include the main users, despite the tight schedule?

Enrico Manzanell: The lack of customer focus was one of the main issues we had with our old website. Navigation and structure were based on the clinic’s internal perspective. They reflected the organizational structure of the clinic – a mistake that far too many companies make even today when they launch new websites.

For our new website, we placed a strong focus on our patients and referring physicians. We stopped looking at the world from an internal point of view and instead created a website for the people who, in the end, form the target group for the website. We had excellent support from the Unic User Experience Team in drawing up the new navigation concept. With their help, we managed to stop thinking along org chart lines and created user centric pathways instead.

What were the challenges you faced?

Katja Dreher: The challenge for the Unic User Experience Team was understanding the sets of questions from both user groups within the given time frame. During the analysis, we discovered a discrepancy between the clinic’s internal processes and the needs of patients and referring physicians which we had to understand and resolve.

Enrico Manzanell: The HCD philosophy with its user centric approach as a guiding principle created a number of challenges for us. We had to compromise here and there, for instance, in the design of the referral and self-referral forms. From a user experience perspective, all forms should be structured the same way across all departments. Our internal processes, however, require a number of different forms, especially since the doctors require different information, depending on their orthopedic specialty, before they can schedule a consultation.

Betroffene zu Beteiligten machen: Katja Dreher, Senior User Experience Architect bei Unic involviert Hauptnutzer in den HCD-Prozess.
Betroffene zu Beteiligten machen: Katja Dreher, Senior User Experience Architect bei Unic involviert Hauptnutzer in den HCD-Prozess.

Service Map, Usability Walkthrough & Contextual Inquiry

Which methods were used to involve the two user groups in the project?

Katja Dreher: During the course of the project, we used three Human Centered Design methods. We used the qualitative contextual inquiry method to understand the processes at Schulthess Klinik. As part of this method, we conducted observations at the main clinic reception. Following those observations, we also randomly interviewed reception staff members.

By drafting service maps, we worked to gain a holistic understanding of the customer experience and to understand the needs of the customer. That is why we focused on patients and referring physicians. To include the experts’ perspective, we also set up a one-day workshop at Unic’s Zurich office for experts in the field. They took an in-depth look at the “treatment process” customer experience and the identified phases for both user groups.

As part of the usability walkthrough, we first interviewed four physicians and then gave them access to our website prototype for testing. The goal was to evaluate the website we had designed and to check whether referring physicians were being supported sufficiently in achieving their goals.

What were the main findings you generated using the HCD methods? What was the biggest surprise?

Katja Dreher: I was especially surprised by the findings of the usability walkthrough. We learned during the interview part of the walkthrough that referring physicians use various communication channels and have even developed workarounds because their processes were not ideal.

What were your personal highlights in this project?

Enrico Manzanell: We used the Scrum methodology for the relaunch of the website. Without this agile approach it would have been almost impossible to launch a completely new website within this short timeframe. This was a new and exciting approach for the Schulthess Klinik project team. In the end we didn’t just get a great new website, we also gained a lot of expertise in the Scrum methodology. We’re now also using this agile approach in other projects at the clinic.

Der Mensch im Zentrum: In unseren Webprojekten leben wir das Prinzip des Human-Centered Design von Beginn an.
Der Mensch im Zentrum: In unseren Webprojekten leben wir das Prinzip des Human-Centered Design von Beginn an.


Is there still ongoing work on the project, now that you’re live?

Enrico Manzanell: There are lots of exciting ideas left in our backlog. Due to the limited time we couldn’t implement all of the ideas by the go-live. But that was never the plan anyway. A good website needs to continually evolve.

We are going to place a strong focus on further developing services for our patients and referring physicians. We are also looking to optimize internal processes that have been made possible by the new website.

What is Schulthess Klinik’s digital strategy for the future?

Enrico Manzanell: There is enormous potential for digitalization in the entire healthcare sector. A very pressing issue right now is electronic exchange of patient data in line with the highest data protection requirements. There is currently a heated debate about the electronic patient dossier (EPD). Beyond that, we have a number of other projects planned that will make the lives of our patients, referring physicians and staff a lot easier.

casestudy schulthess

Schulthess Clinic Leading in orthopaedics and ux

The Schulthess Clinic underwent a complete renewal of its digital presence by implementing a new branding and an improved user experience. With the new, responsive website, the clinic is improving the user experience of patients and referring physicians.