Putting an amazing 'X' into PX and UX

By Christina York

As we continue to develop SpellBound MED, I am regularly struck by the similarities between user experience (UX) and patient experience (PX).

The UX definition that I like best comes from the User Experience Professionals Association:

Every aspect of the user’s interaction with a product, service, or company that make up the user’s perceptions of the whole.

The PX definition that I like best is from the Beryl Institute:

The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.

UX is often measured by aspects of utility, usability, and aesthetics (Nielsen’s heuristics). PX is often measured by elements like communication, environment, and pain (government-mandated surveys like the HCAHPS).

It is the holistic approach to both that speaks to me.

I was a UX researcher and architect for 13 years. I spent a lot of time deciphering human need and motivation and turning the insights I made into simple, usable, elegant interactions with technology.

For SpellBound MED, I work with our team to define, design, and evaluate the SpellBound experience for children, child life specialists, and parents…all the users of SpellBound.

 An example of the creative effort and great resources that some hospitals are dedicating to improving the patient experience.    Source:   Character Farms - Catch a Wave! MRI

An example of the creative effort and great resources that some hospitals are dedicating to improving the patient experience.

Source: Character Farms - Catch a Wave! MRI


When we are designing for experiences for pediatric patients, we are accounting for the fact that their medication may make them feel nauseous; so, the movements of the virtual environment shouldn’t. That treatment may leave them physically exhausted; so, we create as low a barrier as possible to use the app - with minimal choices and physical movement required.

These UX considerations are all designed to address and overcome perceptions that could negatively impact PX.  So when we design for one, we must completely understand the other. And that is why we involve therapists and children in the design and development of our products.

 'Medical play'        Source:  Akron Children's

'Medical play'    

Source: Akron Children's


There are too many ways that PX can be affected, too many variables that can’t always be controlled. The best we can do is to constantly engage with PX through the eyes of the child, the caregiver, the therapist, and the organization so that we can continue to learn and better design the tools that allow kids to be kids, and families to say, “If I have to go back to a hospital, I would want it to be here.”

Christina YorkComment