top of page

Care to wait

Reducing patient frustration and anxiety while waiting for care

Project type: Service design

Timeline: 1 year

Role: UX/UI Designer



The Mater University Hospital is a leading healthcare facility located in Dublin, Ireland. Emergency Department ‘ED’ treats around 60,000 patients annually. The hospital faces challenges such as staff shortages while catering primarily to a patient demographic with low socioeconomic status within the city.

CTW_Hero 1.png


Patients who attend the Emergency Department often experience high levels of frustration and anxiety. Poor service communication makes people feel forgotten and lost within the process, while the emotional strain of waiting long hours leads to tension and disruptive behaviour.


Positioned in the waiting room of the ED, the dashboard gives patients insight into service activity, steps to receiving care and key operational information. Helping to reduce frustration and anxiety during long wait times.

18% increase in customer satisfaction

Staff have reported a major decrease in patient enquiries and disruption to treatment.

The ED service has received a 18% increase in customer satisfaction post implementation.


Poor service visibility adds to frustration

Surveying patients

When we compared the results of survey 1 to the activity report of the ED during the time of the study. The report noted that the ED was at 9/10 capacity level. Analysising the data; we found that patients had no real perception of how busy the ED was from sitting in the waiting room.


In survey 2, patients were asked to rank the information on a priority scale 1-4, which revealed that the average wait time ranked the highest.


Patients triaged in the non-urgent category 3 make up 50% of those attending the ED

Target user group
To maintain focus on the user's perspective throughout the process, I developed a persona during the initial discovery phases. This persona serves as a representation of our target audience, ensuring that our team remains attuned to the needs and pains of the non-urgent category 3 cohort.


Taking a holistic approach and giving a voice to users

Service blueprint
After observing the service in action, focusing on its communication with users, it was evident that the service lacked tools to comfort people during long intervals of care. Recognising these painpoints, I identified the need to provide reassurance to users at every step of their journey.

CTW_Service Blueprint.jpg

Exploring the hospitals IT sparked inspiration for patient facing concept

Concept validation

I presented a range of concepts to key stakeholders including the COO and medical professionals to get feedback and buy in at an early stage. Collectively, we decided to move the dashboard concept forward for its potential impact within the constraints of the hospital.

SL_V1 content page.jpg

Research probe highlights timely dashboard insight 

Co-design workshops

I facilitated a workshop with healthcare staff and used a paper prototype as a research probe in order to collaboratively define the data to display on the dashboard.


The healthcare team approached the information with a holistic mindset considering the overall impact and potential risks. We discovered that displaying the average wait times did not align with the service's objectives.

SL_V1 content page.jpg
CTW_Co design.jpg

How might we improve service transparency and provide patients with visibility and feedback regarding the operational performance of the ED?

Diveports design system advances productivity and collaboration

Design decisions
Due to the limitations imposed by Diveport, the hospitals internal personalisation system, the scope of the UI was restricted. However, a pressure dial within Diveports existing library provided a key component for the UI. The dial can be used to visually communicate the activity level of the service. This resulted in both reduced design and development time.

In alignment with our principles of accessibility we made the decision to remove colour from the dial, to accommodate individuals with colour vision impairments.

CTW_Pressure dial.jpg

How might we provide patients with a sense of progress and journey as they move between the waiting area and treatment rooms?

Adjusting the display orientation to enhance user experience

Design decisions

User testing revealed issues with medical terminology, especially for users who are experiencing the ED for the first time. We needed more space to expand on information to improve accessibility. I pivoted towards a dashboard in portrait format, which resulted in more space for text and a natural flow for tracking patient steps. 

CTW_Tracking steps.jpg

Final outcome

Staff embraces the dashboard, assisting them in better patient outcomes

The dashboard's pressure dial reflects the Emergency Department's current activity level based on capacity, providing immediate insights into service operations. This effectively addresses patient misperceptions, reduces frustrations, and minimises disruptions to care.

CTW_Final 1.jpg

Visible tracking steps provides reassurance to patients


The dashboard displays the live number of patients registered in the ED. Additionally, as patients advance through treatment steps, their progress is tracked and updated on the dashboard. This feature reassures patients that they are accounted for while they wait.

CTW_Final 2.jpg

Building trust in the service through compassionate communication

Patients want clarity on wait times, but due to the unpredictable environment, providing precise estimates is difficult. We addressed this challenge by proactively managing patient expectations through transparent communication. The dashboard employs accessible language and intuitive icons to effectively convey critical information.

CTW_Final 3.jpg

Key learnings


The dashboard must be understood at a glance

Dashboards must be understood at first glance and without any prior knowledge. This allows it to be inclusive and accessible to a wide user group from the moment they enter the service.


Power of co-design

Co-design is instrumental in stakeholder buy-in and the generation of new opportunities. Paper prototyping flattens leadership hierarchy so that everyone feels involved.


Stakeholders buy-in is crucial to success

For success in healthcare service improveme, nurse adoption of the proposed solution is essential. Nurses are the backbone of healthcare, facing staffing challenges and cognitive fatigue. Any solution adding to their workload risks being unused.

bottom of page