Decreasing HR benefit selection time by 90%
for 10,000 hospital employees.

  • Healthcare
  • HR & Benefits Administration
  • Product Design UX / UI
  • Full Stack Engineering
  • Business Strategy

Mission Health, a large healthcare provider in North Carolina, engaged our team to completely overhaul their employee benefits selection application, a project which offered both design and technical challenges. On the design front we needed to build a robust application which included all the different benefit options available to all 10,000 employees, while offering a custom sign up experience for employees based on their individual circumstances. Working closely with various stakeholders the necessity to include in-app educational info about various benefit types was essential. Technically the new application had to integrate seamlessly with the client’s existing technology stack.

The new solution shortened the time it takes employees to make their benefits selection by 90%, allowing users to sign up for benefits remotely, and saving HR and IT teams time by reducing the volume and repetition of support calls.

Improve Benefit Selection Time by
90%
Users Registered
10,000+
Increased Device Support
500%
Stakeholder Teams
5

The Challenge

Create a better and more efficient system for Mission Health’s 10,000 hospital employees to select and register for benefits from any device and location, reducing the number repetitive support calls, missed deadlines and lost benefits.

Mission Health Old App

The Solution

Design and build an application, which radically improves benefit elections by offering in application guidance & education, integrates seamlessly with the existing which is accessible remotely across multiple (desktop and mobile) devices, while maintaining the security of the original system.

The Outcome

A sophisticated application enabling 10,000+ users to sign up for employment benefits from any device and location, which seamlessly integrates with the existing system and technology stack. Delivering a 75% reduction in support calls to HR and IT, and reducing the time it takes to register for benefits by 90%.

It’s amazing … we are setting the stage for this to be the employee app of the future.

- Jon Brown, CIO Mission Health Hospitals

Becoming Experts in Complex Subject Matter

Mission Health is an independent community hospital system and the largest employer in Western North Carolina. We worked with them to overhaul their employee benefits selection app - a tool used by hundreds of doctors, nurses, and administrative staff to sign up for health insurance and employee benefits.

We worked closely with all stakeholders including: Mission Health IT and HR, a SaaS supplier, and hospital staff using the app to understand the user needs and shortcomings of the existing system.

The complexities of the challenge were many. Not only not only were different types of employees eligible for different benefits at different times of year based on personal circumstances, but each one of 11 benefits was subject to variable pricing based on factors ranging from employee salary to their dependent spouse’s employment status.

Benefit Pricing

More Than Just One Stakeholder

Aside from the HR team’s business requirements, we also received input from several other groups. The IT team had their own set of technical and practical constraints, while end users presented us with details of their own experiences and suggestions for improving the benefits process. All in all, our initial designs were inspired by conversations with over 30 individuals.

Integrating with a legacy backend for cross-platform consistency

The design and development process started with a prioritized roadmap of improvements created by a Product Manager, it continued with designer and customer-led wireframe reviews, technical investigations and engineering sprints, and finally a round of thorough testing with the customer.

Legacy Backend

Integrating with a Legacy Backend

While our solution overhauled the process of choosing benefits and presenting information, it still relied on employee accounts and business rules stored on Mission’s servers. This dependency brought with it a number of challenges - from coordinating closely with two internal technical teams, to understanding APIs (and requesting new ones when needed), to conforming to the security constraints of the Mission Health servers. Our engineering team completed several technical investigations and architectural designs early on. This confirmed that our product designs were feasible, ensured that dependencies would be communicated early, and reduced the potential for wasted work.

The Mission Health Brand

Brand Consistency

Although the designs presented a dramatic departure from the old, we worked hard to maintain consistency with Mission Health’s familiar brand. Throughout the app, employees are met with a familiar tone of voice and visual iconography, as well as a navigation experience that fits into the broader Mission UI experience.

Device

Device Support

Among the most ambitious goals of the project was to make the app available outside of Mission network and across more devices. We worked hand in hand with the IT team to set up a secure connection appropriate for carrying sensitive user information, and designed the app in a mobile-first fashion. This enabled employees to select benefits outside of work hours and from their own tablets and mobile phones, while still maintaining functionality in older browser on-site.

Mission Health Prototype

Usability Studies

Working together with Mission’s HR team, we fleshed out the new UI paradigm and the foundations of our design vision. Still, we recognized that neither party was the target user - we all knew too much about the subject and we risked becoming attached to our designs. We conducted several short usability studies with various employees around the Mission Health hospital campus - from the front desk attendant to the cleaning stuff and the nurses. These provided the HR team with confidence in our collective design vision and led to valuable usability improvements before the final product launch.

An Elegant Design Paradigm

The final app implementation centered around a friendly wizard that takes employees through the benefits one by one. The three or four categories of benefits, although conceptually different, are brought together by a common interface - one which asks questions in a logical sequence and presents plan options based on their answers.

Design Principles on Mission Health

  • Ask about dependents, beneficiaries, and other factors before presenting plans

  • Provide feedback and timely confirmations after each decision in the app


  • Make it clear how each choice affects benefit pricing

  • Present questions and information only when relevant

  • Integrate videos and information from text materials directly into the interface
  • Help users understand where in the process they are and how to backtrack

  • Maximize discoverability and efficiency for touch enabled devices

  • Make use of modern UI trends such as side-loading navigation menus

  • Include actionable advice and direction in all error messages

After thorough testing, the system was deployed for use by all new Mission Health employees. There was an immediate drop in the number of support calls and users were delighted to open the app on their mobile devices and choose benefits in record time.

Beyond Development - Full Stack Offering

Product design and development are the tangible features of our work, however the right solution goes above and beyond to deliver business outcomes. We take a full stack approach to software innovation for Mission Health, which included strategy, branding, user and IT training, and product handover.

Our holistic approach to the product meant that we were deeply connected with the market, users needs and business goals.

  • Improving Performance

    Aside from helping tune and optimize the network, we created a caching system to help speed up the app and lower the load on Mission’s servers.

  • Changing Human Processes

    Previous technical constraints required users to take a Health Survey before choosing their benefits. We came up with a workaround, allowing users to take the survey at their convenience without delaying or disrupting the benefits selection process.

  • Training

    In order to get the most out of the new solution, we trained the HR and IT teams on all the details - everything from customizing text to resetting user profiles.

  • Support

    We provided ‘At-elbow’ support to help the very first users through the new app, reporting their impressions to the client, and instantly improving the system based on our findings.

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