User Experience (UX) Research in Healthcare


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Healthcare companies should embrace iterative user research so that they may design products that aligns with their customers' wants and needs. UX research studies are not clinical trials - they are a means of learn how to best design a product for customers.

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  • A usability study is a one-on-one session between the participant and the moderator.
    The participants perform a series of tasks on the interface while thinking-aloud. That is, telling us what they are thinking as they perform the task.
    The moderator encourages think-aloud and asks probing questions where appropriate.
  • Most usability studies are screen based: websites and software.
    There is typically a two-way mirror and a projection of the screen so observers can see what the participant is doing.
  • We can also perform usability studies on mobile phones, apps, and physical devices.
    Instead of using a screen, we’ll setup a webcam to capture what the participant does.
    Not using medicine during medical device testing, always water. Participants never use the devices on themselves.
  • Usability studies are only one type of UX research method. The wide array allows us to choose the right method for the right part of the project.
    The goal is to get the right type of data at the right time: formative data at the beginning of the project, evaluative during, and summative at the end.
    There are both qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Little “e” ethnography is when we observe participants in their natural environment.
    This allows us to see the environmental factors and how participants REALLY use the device.
    Not to be confused with big “E” Ethnography, where researchers study cultures for years.
  • The moderator observes participants’ behavior, combines these with knowledge of design psychology, and determines design recommendations.
    Based on participant behavior, the moderator asks probing questions to understand their motivation and expectations.
  • Most UX research is qualitative – no statistical significance. It’s not worth the cost.
    UX research is about the getting the best bang for your buck – the best, most useful data, with as few participants as possible and in the least amount of time.
  • UX research is not definitive – we’re not “proving” anything.
    We’re giving the design direction based on user input.
  • You never know what users are going to do unless you watch them use your product.
  • Designers are great – they making amazing interactions and visuals that make interfaces sing.
    But, they are not your user. Don’t leave it up to the designers to determine how your product works.
    Who knows more about grandma’s needs? The designer…
  • …or grandma?
  • When you don’t get input from users, you get a hybrid of needs, and it’s just ugly.
  • Say it with me: User Research studies are not clinical trials!
    We’re not testing the efficacy of drugs or devices – we’re testing the usability and user experience.
  • We’re not aiming for statistically significant data – it’s not worth the cost.
    We’re not proving anything, we’re getting design direction.
  • So don’t ask your agency/designer/researcher to get usability data from 30 participants per demographic. Save that for your FDA validation studies.
  • Don’t rely on marketing focus groups for design direction.
    They are learning what product to sell, we are learning how to make the product align with customer expectations.
    The fool’s errand of: “Let’s get as many people in the room at once so we can say that we had input for XX # of people.”
  • In the 90’s, Bob Virzi found that 5-8 participants will generally find 85% of your usability problems.
    More complex now, but it’s still a good rule of thumb.
    Minimum of 5 participants per demographic, if they truly represent different interaction/information needs.
    Typically, 12-18 participants per usability study, depending on the number of demographics.
  • This is an example of what a usability report looks like.
    Researchers will point out prioritized opportunities for improvement.
    Reporting on the positive findings is important so we don’t break what is already working.
  • The overall goal is to report on the study findings and the associated recommendations.
    Always report a recommendation for each finding.
    Ensure the findings are prioritized, a 1-3 scale is typically sufficient.
  • Don’t be scared of the FDA, talk to them. They’re helpful.
    Not every report and research study needs to be submitted to the FDA, only validation studies for product approval.
    FDA validation studies are statistically significant studies conducted during and at the end of the product development lifecycle.
  • Incremental usability studies will help you make a product align with user expectations; validation usability studies will prove to the FDA that it meets usability requirements.
    Incremental studies need only a few participants to maximize ROI; the goal of these is to guide the design.
    FDA validation studies need a statistically significant number of participants to validate the product’s usability.
  • Again, it’s not just about usability. Choose the right UX research method for the right time in the project.
  • Lesson #1: Make information pop
    Find the red circle
  • Find the red circle
  • Find the red circle
  • Pretty hard, eh?
  • Making information pop = taking advantage of how our mind works and bolstering its weaknesses.
    We’re good at judging the length of a line (right), but not the area of a polygon (left)
    The graphic on the right pops more, it requires less thinking.
  • SimIndia example – multiple areas of information popping
  • PregnantMe example – both information and interaction pop
  • CDC example – it’s not just about making information pop, interaction needs to as well
  • Lesson #2: Mobile First, Where Appropriate
  • But mobile isn’t always appropriate; people don’t need all of your functionality in the mobile environment.
  • Desktop is still important for privacy-related matters.
  • Plan out what is important to your users at different touch points.
    Determine what functionality and information they need and want for the different platforms.
  • Lesson #3: Companies ask their users to do weird things.
  • Having to log into multiple systems.
    I watched my Optician copy and paste information from one system to another.
    Systems need to talk to each other.
  • This woman had to contort herself to reach the injection site, while maintaining the strength to press the button.
  • This set of patients typically used a rubber band to hold two pieces of this device together.
  • The inhaler that needed to be kept upright at all times.
  • Greatest myth: that we can’t talk to doctors and patients.
    UX researchers take HIPAA very seriously – we will stop participants from divulging too much information and protect any collected data.
  • Don’t polish a turd by only conducting a single usability study at the end of the project.
    Conduct iterative research to inform the project throughout its lifecycle.
  • Formative = at the beginning of the project.
    Evaluative = after a design artifact is available.
    Summative = after a high-fidelity prototype or finished product is available.
    Many different research options for each stage of a project.
  • Use qualitative throughout the design project, but validate with quantitative at the end.
  • Do all of this to build empathy with your patients so you truly understand their wants and needs.
  • See:
  • User Experience (UX) Research in Healthcare

    1. 1. #HxR2014 UX Research in Healthcare is Easier Than You Think! Dan Berlin Experience Research Director, Mad*Pow @banderlin
    2. 2. #HxR2014 Topics What is user experience (UX) research? What have we learned from usability research? How you can get started… soon!
    3. 3. #HxR2014 What Is UX Research?
    4. 4. #HxR2014 What does a usability study look like?
    5. 5. #HxR2014 What does a usability study look like?
    6. 6. #HxR2014 Device that I can’t show you
    7. 7. #HxR2014 There’s a wide variety of user experience methods
    8. 8. #HxR2014 What does ethnography look like?
    9. 9. #HxR2014 Moderators observe behaviors and ask the right questions
    10. 10. #HxR2014 UX Research is Typically Qualitative
    11. 11. #HxR2014 UX Research is Typically Directional
    12. 12. #HxR2014 Users do strange things
    13. 13. #HxR2014 Who knows more about the healthcare needs of the elderly?
    14. 14. #HxR2014 Who knows more about the healthcare needs of the elderly?
    15. 15. #HxR2014 What happens when you don’t get input from actual users?
    16. 16. #HxR2014 UX Research studies aren’t…
    17. 17. #HxR2014 CLINICAL TRIALS
    18. 18. #HxR2014
    19. 19. #HxR2014
    20. 20. #HxR2014 A Marketing Focus Group is NOT User Experience Research
    21. 21. #HxR2014 Don’t need significant numbers to make a significant difference
    22. 22. #HxR2014
    23. 23. #HxR2014 Usability studies are qualitative Positive: Users were able to find the “Buy Now” button. 3 out of 8 participants mentioned that the picture had no relevance to them. Consider: replacing this with an infographic or another picture that may draw in users. 6 out of 8 participants mentioned that the text in the buttons was hard to read. Consider: increasing the contrast of the text to ease readability.
    24. 24. #HxR2014 Finding Recommendation Participants said that the text was hard to read Increase the contrast of the text Participants were unable to locate the product; they said they expected it under Products & Services Move XYZ product to the Product & Services area Participants were unable to discern the top from the bottom of the vial Include a visual cue as to which is the top and bottom of the vial Participants were able to figure out how to use the insulin pump, but said that the instructions were very hard to follow Add detail throughout the instruction manual Typical Usability Study Results
    25. 25. #HxR2014 Incremental Usability vs. For FDA Submission
    26. 26. #HxR2014 Incremental Usability vs. For FDA Submission • Small studies throughout the product lifecycle • Qualitative; 5-8 participants per demographic • Learn user needs and expectations and use these to guide design • Fewer, larger studies closer to product launch • Quantitative and qualitative; >30 participants • Validate that the product is indeed usable for the target audience
    27. 27. #HxR2014 There’s a wide variety of user experience methods
    28. 28. #HxR2014 Conducting user research WILL inform you about: How users think about your product How users expect to interact with your product
    29. 29. #HxR2014 What have we learned during usability studies?
    30. 30. #HxR2014 Make information pop
    31. 31. #HxR2014 Make information pop
    32. 32. #HxR2014 Make information pop
    33. 33. #HxR2014 Make information pop
    34. 34. #HxR2014
    35. 35. #HxR2014
    36. 36. #HxR2014
    37. 37. #HxR2014
    38. 38. #HxR2014 Mobile First, Where Appropriate
    39. 39. #HxR2014 Mobile First, Where Appropriate
    40. 40. #HxR2014 Mobile First, Where Appropriate
    41. 41. #HxR2014
    42. 42. #HxR2014 Companies ask their users to do weird things
    43. 43. #HxR2014
    44. 44. #HxR2014
    45. 45. #HxR2014
    46. 46. #HxR2014
    47. 47. #HxR2014 Make information pop Mobile first, where appropriate Companies ask their users to do weird things
    48. 48. #HxR2014 How you can get started… SOON!
    49. 49. #HxR2014 Greatest Myth in UX Research for Healthcare
    50. 50. #HxR2014 Conduct iterative research
    51. 51. #HxR2014 User Experience Research in the Project Lifecycle Formative Interviews, call center, ethnography Summative Usability, diary studies, online assessments Evaluative Usability, card sorts, workshops, guerilla
    52. 52. #HxR2014 Bolster Qualitative with Quantitative at the End
    53. 53. #HxR2014
    54. 54. #HxR2014 Consider the $300,000,000 button. Why should you do this?
    55. 55. #HxR2014 Just get your product in front of customers and watch them use it… You may be surprised at what you see!
    56. 56. #HxR2014 Thank you! Dan Berlin @banderlin