Filed under: Usability
Yesterday, we had the honour of participating in the World Usability Day event held in Canberra, Australia. The global theme for this year was “Healthcare: Collaborating for Better Systems“.
I gave a presentation on the importance of field research, when delivering solutions to health workers (and others).
Key points from the presentation:
- Our first consulting project in 2001 was an intranet project for Hunter Health. This involved conducting field research in a wide variety of environments, including hospital wards.
- We saw first hand how busy nurses were, and how little time they had to access information during their working day. Even in 2001 there was a computer in each ward, but this was guarded by the “nursing unit manager”, effectively the team leader of the nurses. Nurses also resented anything that got in the way of time spent with patients. Not an easy environment to deliver solutions to!
- We also talked to “allied health workers”, who flagged amongst other things, that they had to stop at public libraries to get the internet access to download work-related documents (internet access was blocked for all staff at the time).
- Much has changed in the healthcare sector in the last 10+ years, but the need to conduct field research hasn’t reduced.
- Three key principles: you can’t deliver solutions to staff you haven’t personally met, don’t ask staff what they want, and stories are powerful.
- Conduct effective needs analysis / field research / ethnographic research. (Read Designing intranets: creating sites that work for more on research techniques.)
- The Mayo Clinic intranet redesign for the Department of Nursing is a powerful example of what can be done (read about it in the 2013 Intranet Innovation Awards report).
- Field research is critical in every design project (whether in healthcare or elsewhere).
- Field research can literally save lives!
Thanks to the team at Department of Immigration for organising such a great day!