The NHSX is focusing on user research in a bid to improve technology within the NHS. Through user research, NHS patients, staff and clinicians can help to improve the healthcare experience for the benefit of everyone. A huge focus for improving the healthcare experience is through technology. However, the NHSX knows that the only way that technology can improve the user experience is through understanding more about the people who use it.
User research is the chance to understand what people do. However, often, people confuse user research with simply looking at what people want. Instead, it should focus on what people do, the ways they go about it, and why they do what they do. Instead of looking for opinions, user research focuses on behaviours, and that is exactly what the NHSX wants to understand.
So, instead of asking individuals to say what they want, or what they think would be good, they are seeking out users to use technology. Through this, researchers can see the problems where people get stuck, and in what situations they may use the product or service.
The NHSX is focusing on user research as a way to uncover problems for the NHS and to create solutions that can assist users in the context they are in. By focusing on what the issues are, it becomes easier to design a solution that will work in a particular setting. When NHSX develops solutions, they task users with looking for problems during the initial alpha phase.
How to conduct user research
Consequently, the NHSX has recommendations for how to conduct effective user research;
- Uncover user behaviour
Typically, users get in touch with a provider when they uncover a problem. It is vital to track and record all customer communication from helpline calls ,emails, website feedback and to face to face communication.
- Look for evidence
What people say and what people do can be very different. So, it is best to observe users to fully understand what they actually do, rather than what they say happens. You can compare finding between what users say and do to look for patterns in behaviour.
- Focus on disproving rather than proving
When searching for a solution, it becomes easy to have a tunnel vision where you look for information and data that supports what you think. Known as confirmation bias, this may mean you miss valid data that disproves your theory or shows that your solution may not be effective. Try to prove yourself wrong rather than prove yourself right.
- Keep researching
One method of research with one group of users will not be enough data to spot patterns or to find a solution. It is important to keep researching with new and different groups in a range of scenarios to help provide all of the answers that you are looking for. Keep learning, altering, measuring and improving.
- Accept your limits
For most, there will be limits in research, whether its time, money or environment. It is important to be aware that these limits may inhibit your findings but find the solutions that work well within the constraints you have.
Did you know you can join the team of user researchers at NHSX? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.