AbleTo partners with various health care plans to provide their patients with access to virtual therapy. 

The Referrer Scheduling Tool (RST) allows referrers, who are internal service representatives at these individual health plans to easily refer their patients to AbleTo if they are seeking mental health treatment. 

RST is one of several channels in which patients can enroll in an AbleTo program.

Role + Timeframe

I was the lead designer and I worked with a product manager and three engineers. My responsibilities took an end-to-end approach covering problem definition, project scoping, user research, design, and creating a backlog of prioritized features.

It took two months to launch our first version of RST and it has been consistently optimized on since.
2020 Brought Along Many Shifts
In spring 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a sudden increase in mental health care needs. One of our major health plan partners requested that we create an easier process for their internal service representatives to refer patients to AbleTo. 

Normally, expanding new product launches with our health care plan partners required months of approval and effort. However, due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, it was imperative that we efficiently deliver a solution to help widen access to our therapy programs.
The Problem
Originally referrers couldn’t just directly register interested patients to AbleTo. They instead had to walk the patients through the AbleTo website step by step and have the patient sign up themselves. This process became tedious and cumbersome especially if the referrer was going to help enroll multiple patients to AbleTo.

User Goals

Despite the tight timelines and constraints, I wanted to ensure that our work was still grounded in user goals and that we were solving the right problems. We validated the following high-level goals through metrics and qualitative feedback from referrers. 

As a referrer, I want to:

• Ensure a smooth transition of handing off the patient to AbleTo

• Support a patient on the phone while also taking care of logistical steps
How might we widen access to AbleTo in a pandemic?
Along with my product manager, we facilitated discussions with our team where we brainstormed and prioritized potential solutions based on their effort and impact of addressing our user and business goals. We decided to leverage our current patient onboarding flow and augment it to let referrers directly schedule an appointment on behalf of their members. This allowed us to:

1. Customize RST to specific health plan partner needs.

2. Reduce development time due to developers building upon our existing tech stack.

3. Have more quality control and not depend on utilizing third-party solutions.
The MVP and Initial Response

MVP Approach
In our first iteration of RST that launched, we took a more minimal approach to ensure we could launch within an ideal window of opportunity. It was important that our team was aligned on core functionality. In my design process, I took iterative approach in exploring many solutions before honing in on a direction with developers based on effort and scope.

Initial Response
Our first major health plan partner we launched with had positive reception to RST and felt that it gave their referrers more ease. This allowed us to also expand with other clients.
Addressing Complexities with Expansion 
As we expanded the number of health plan partner using RST, some complications naturally arose due to the different needs and complexities of each partner. In our initial launches, we saw unnecessary overhead as each partner had their own set of RST customizations and we didn’t have a consistent approach for giving partners an easy way to access RST.

Additionally, we saw a spike in edge cases and errors  that prevented referrers from successfully scheduling. Since we had built the initial version of RST to be quite lean, referrers did not have many options to resolve an error or receive support options.

The Endless Retry Loop of Terror
In the first version of RST, we built a mostly linear path for referrers to sign up patients. If either a user error or system error appeared after the referrer filled in the patient’s info, the only option the referrer had to fix the issue was to retry entering the info again. However this didn’t necessarily fix the issue, causing some referrers to keep retrying the patient info over and over in an endless loop.

We did not prioritize support options as we had made the assumption that referrers were more informed users who had patient info readily available. We were also constrained from driving more volume to AbleTo’s already at capacity internal support center.
The Solution
To address issues the referrers were facing, we took the following approach that we felt would yield the most impact for the amount of effort :

1. Surface tailored error messages 
This allowed the referrer to see what the particular issue was and then they were given the option to retry or to request support

2. Create sustainable support option
When the referrer did request support, I designed a form that would ensure smooth handoff of the patient to AbleTo an
Overall Impact
We received feedback from multiple major health plans that they were blown away at how much RST simplified the experience and removed some of the barriers to getting members to care. In addition were also able to:

• Brought real-time digital appointment scheduling to 8M+ lives and  > 100 referrers
• Expanded launches with 1 partner to 6 and counting health plan
• Went from 1 to 200 referrals/ month
• 2/3 of launch work is now turnkey

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