Healthcare User Experience Evaluated: The state of South African Private Hospital Groups’ Websites in 2019

Sand Dollar Design completed an in-depth User Experience Evaluation across all the major South African private hospital groups’ websites in April 2019. In this post we share some of the main findings and insights.

What websites did we evaluate?

Our team of researchers evaluated the websites of Netcare, MediClinic, Life Healthcare and Intercare.

What method did we use to evaluate the experience on the sites?

Sand Dollar Design Heuristic Framework

Sand Dollar Design’s Heuristic Framework consists of three usability inspection methods:

  1. Heuristic review, where a team of usability experts examine the user interface and assess whether it aligns to a set of usability standards or principles. The main purpose is to evaluate the usability of the system, i.e. are users likely to be able to use it, or does the site have inherent usability issues.
  2. Cognitive walkthrough, which is a detailed procedure to simulate a user’s problem-solving process at each step in a task, and evaluate whether users are likely to be able to complete tasks in line with their mental model.
  3. Feature inspection, where we evaluate which features are available compared to competitors, and how well the features have been designed and implemented.

Key findings

In terms of Usability, which is evaluated through the Heuristic Review, half of the companies performed quite poorly (54% and 58%), and the other half were rated as average (74% and 70%). Ideally, these organisations should be aiming to achieve scores of 80% and above to be considered good from a usability perspective.

Usability scores for Private Healthcare Service Providers in South Africa

In terms of the Cognitive Walkthroughs, we evaluated common tasks of these websites main users (current or potential patients), such as finding the visiting hours of a hospital and finding a doctor’s contact details.

The most common issue across many of the sites, is that a lot of prominence is given to “Investor Relations” information over information applicable to patients. This is strange especially since “Investor Relations” information is mostly applicable to Investors, which make up only a small percentage of healthcare providers’ website visitors.

It is expected that the majority of users visiting these websites would be patients, and perhaps career seekers. In order for these websites to become more Patient-centric, the main focus should be shifted to prioritising Patient journeys, from corporate information for investors.

Number of Self-Service features offered online by SA’s private healthcare providers

Lastly, with the Feature Inspection, we identified that some South African providers are offering features that enhance the experience of patients in the digital age, such as allowing online appointment bookings and pre-admissions. At the same time other providers are not offering any online “self-service” functionality, meaning their patients will be forced to phone their call centers or go into a hospital to receive any type of service. There was also a general trend that most of these sites were not optimized for mobile usage, which is a big issue given our high mobile penetration rates in South Africa.

While some pockets of excellence were identified, these were few and far between, and most of these providers need to prioritize their online experience in order to start servicing their patients in the digital world.


In order to improve on the Patient Experience on Private Hospital Groups’ websites, it is recommended to reduce the focus on promotional and investor related content, and instead rather focus on their primary users – the patients. It is also critical to focus on improving some usability basics and ensuring mobile responsiveness across these sites to make it more accessible and usable for their Patients and other stakeholders using the websites.

Find out more

If you are interested in more detailed insights and finding out more about this study, request a detailed report on our findings.

About Sand Dollar Design

Sand Dollar Design is an Experience Design Consulting firm, with a focus and passion for re-imagining the Patient and Provider experience through Digital Health interventions, in order to achieve improved Healthcare outcomes for all.

Find out more about our services at www.sanddollardesign.co

Related posts