IXDA #60 – Shaping Healthcare

For a change of scenery, IxDA this month was in a small venue seating just 60, which I was lucky enough to get into and see a double-header focusing on how Healthcare is being disrupted like everything else – or not, at least in the same way, given various constraints that leave it as “the last analogue space in a digital world” (as I remember the quote!)

Frederike Wanstrath – SAP Health

The SAP Innovation Centre in Potsdam is a B2B (or is that B2M – Business to Medical?) organisation providing technology across the health services spectrum, with this presentation focusing mainly on interfaces used within hospital wards.

Frederike outlined numerous challenges to both Product Design and UX, for example:

  • Legal approval – given that people’s lives are often at stake, various levels of government sign-off are required, including testing, for example the FDA in the US
  • Data privacy – especially in Europe, patients need to be protected and have full control over their personal data. This in turn can limit opportunities to learn from patients as a large sample group, unless data can be sufficiently anonymised to protect individuals
  • Getting time and input from doctors – busy people who naturally have enough trouble treating patients in their care, let alone finding additional hours to work with UX researchers

The benefits of aggregated data, innovative technology and better UX are numerous. Seeing similar and aggregated treatment paths for chemotherapy, for example, might enable doctors to see common reactions at various points in the treatment journey, which in turn suggests or recommends what has or hasn’t worked before.

Distributing data capture – with most patients now having smart phones and being able to upload their own data via an app – means more motivated users and less reliance on doctors having to share notes and different perspectives. For the doctors themselves, better design and UX means that they can quickly get updates and prioritised information leading to (hopefully) better and quicker decisions.

One query I would like to have seen answered was around decision-making on how information is prioritised and used – what risks are there in how this influences the choice of treatment? Who makes the decision as to what is important? How do related pharmaceutical companies, for example, ensure ethical dilemmas in design are kept at arms length from their profit motive?

John Buckley – Frontend.com

John started with an interesting insight about the complicated landscape that Healthcare presents to traditional UX practice: rather than throwing together a few simple personas and scenarios for a typical consumer product, we have many layers of institutions, individual users and relationships between them:

His first simple case study involved needing to save money for a large client, but without changing “anything” about the product … lest FDA approval in the US be revoked.

Ironically, the solution to this challenge was out of scope – a problem was discovered in the broader customer experience, where small lettering for a prescription code (that needed to be read out when calling customer support) was chewing up time on each call. Increasing the lettering (proposed via a quick Photoshop mockup) saved on average 20 seconds per call, and in turn, $1.5 million over 2 years.

More recently, Frontend.com offered help with the migrant crisis of 2015, recognising that many of the people on the move would have both a need for medical care, and difficulties obtaining it along the way in different geographic locations.

Their award-winning solution was recognising the common use of smartphones in the group, linking appointments and prescriptions independent of location (stored in the cloud), and creating a digital labelling system that could be used on the go, as well as linked to information online in the user’s own language.

An impressive application of UX to help improve the world – for more information, click the link above or see this article – Mobile Tech Key to Migrant Health Care Solutions.

New/old music and tours

Having moved to Europe in Spring, I’m just being reminded of all the new music gets released in the Northern Hemisphere as the bands and crowds get ready for festivals and concerts everywhere from Ireland to Sweden to Portugal.

2017 seems to be the year of the mini-comeback, at least bands I haven’t seen for a few year – The New Pornographers, The National and now Broken Social Scene with the added bonus of Leslie Feist on vocals. Happy days.


Meetup: Designing a UX Portfolio

For my first visit to the Berlin UX Book Club, I ventured out to Treptower Park and the digital agency Moccu – the organisers have an intentional process of “sharing” the club around to different companies and parts of Berlin, which no doubt keeps things fresh.

Straight from presenting at UX Camp Europe, consultant Ian Fenn is currently developing his first book, intended to help UX professionals of all kinds display their work and most importantly, sell themselves to prospective employers or contracts.

Why build a Portfolio?

The key messages a portfolio needs to address are simple – answering the hiring manager’s obvious questions of:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Can you do it well?
  • Do we need you?

One surprise straight away was that Ian himself actually uses a PDF base template, which he adapts for each contact and client, rather than a catch-all website which I would have assumed was standard.

Whilst this is great for personalisation, I did wonder about the significant effort this may entail, compared to the potential for recruiters to either not respond, or spend a few minutes at most glancing at a few pages or screens – is extensive personalisation a good investment, or only for heavyweights like Ian himself?

Potentially this is solved to an extent via a simple (hence, more easily adaptable approach), with Ian’s standard being:

  1. A basic introduction, with direct language about the value he adds
  2. A summary of his core skills
  3. Selected work, tailored to what the client needs

Your Introduction

Here Ian talked about things to avoid, including:

  • A high-minded, “saving the world” type introduction – questioning whether you could defend your extraordinary claims with actual, believable examples;
  • Irrelevant information, such as claims about being left-brain or right-brain (or both), Myers-Briggs analysis, or (for Americans) GPA scores and so on; and
  • “Meaningful quotes” such as “A problem should not be solved, without first being explored.” Apparently Steve Jobs quotes are very popular, but not helping candidates!

Case Studies

Working your past experience and projects into case studies has a number of benefits:

  • Effective storytelling is entertaining, and gives specific details
  • It deters plagiarism, telling the story and specific steps in delivery
  • You can choose the focus of each case study and hence, how it (and you) want to be perceived

Hiring managers view the ability to curate as a core design skill, so case studies should be carefully selected so you are showing:

  • Your best work, not a mass or random selection
  • Different types of product, different types of client
  • Details e.g. role, industry type, CMS, methodology and tools you’ve used

The structure of each case study should be relatively consistent:

  1. Tell me a story
    • What was the problem?
    • How did you solve it?
    • What was the overall result?
  2. What were the key tools and deliverables
    • Usability Testing
    • User interviews
    • Prototype
  3. What were the results?
    • Page views, other metrics
    • Testimonials

Finally, Ian focused some detail on getting your portfolio reviewed – avoiding a generic “email blast” of sending it to everyone you know, but instead asking industry peers.

With his final recommendations being to actively maintain your portfolio, and remember that the best UX portfolios are user-centred, just like the work that they describe.

Q & A

Lots of questions from an engaged group, with my favourite takeouts being:

  • Related to my “PDF vs Digital” observation above – HR, hiring managers and other interviewers are still likely to like to print something, which they can then scribble notes or questions on as an aid for when you meet.
  • I was curious as to whether Ian had researched analytics on an online portfolio, but his main audience for now has been hiring managers.
  • Likewise, his “peer review” for the book is a hiring manager audience – it might be interesting to aim more broadly, for example both sides of the hiring process.
  • As an author publishing through the US (O’Reilly), he is curious as how much editing to suit American English will dilute his British humour!
  • One curious statement was that whilst word-of-mouth might be enough for current Senior professionals, this would no longer be the case in future as others graduated through the ranks. This makes it tough as work-life pressures (e.g. families) come into play, though perhaps a mitigation action is to ensure your portfolio management and structure is clear and easy to update!

Overall a great session and a great group – looking forward to reading “Practical Empathy” by Indi Young at the next one.