Better Box - User Research

Improving Carnegie Mellon's health service to enhance student health

Our team was hired by the Carnegie Mellon Health and Counseling services to design improvement to their systems for enhancing student health. They are interested in new processes or technology that will help the delivery of their services and help students achieve better health, now and in later life. The poster above is a sneak peek into the solution we finally produced for this project.
This project was user research heavy and we conducted contextual inquiry that itself consists of many research methodologies that help us truly dive into the users context and see the world of healthcare in the university from their vantage point.
Investigation Phase
Observational interviews and interpretations

To start off, we recruited 5 subjects, created an interview guideline, conducted the interviews and finally interpreted each interview as a team. We modeled our interpretations into three different models: Flow, Cultural, and Sequence. This helped us in distilling the key issues and insights.
To do this, we divided ourselves into various for each interview. These were: Recorder (record insights for that particular interview, making notes that make sense by itself and can lead to a design idea), Observer (recounts observations and rough notes from the interview he/she conducted) and Modeler(s) (modeled the observations and notes into the three models mentioned above).
This was done to understand the context, culture, and flow of information between different stakeholders in the vast network that is the university health service system.
Below I lay out a preview of the different steps that we undertook in this section.
The bottom images are the notes per subject that the recorder took followed by the three models we made per interview. The flow model represents the coordination, communication, interaction, roles, and responsibilities of the people in a certain work practice, the cultural model represents the norms, influences, and pressures that are present in the work environment and the sequence model represents the steps users go through to accomplish a certain activity, including breakdowns and user intents.
We refined the rough model sketches into ones that made more sense of the situation.
Affinity Diagramming

Since we had a ton of data and no way of making any sense of it, we decided to affinity diagram and clustering the data by the ideas instead of categories. We did this so that we could see the big picture and uncover persistent issues. This also helped us summarize the notes in a way that told a story. We continuously abstracted what the data contained to a higher degree, which is represented by blue, pink and green sticky notes.
Model Consolidation

We moved to consolidating all our models into one consolidated version for each category. First we deconstructed roles, responsibilities, sequences, actions etc. and then re-bundled them into one model taking into account our original notes and affinity diagrams.
For the consolidated flow diagram, we decided to group together people who fell under similar roles. For examples residential assistants, professors and friends now fell under social network. Below are the consolidated flow and cultural diagrams that were made from 5 different models each.
For the consolidated service blueprint, we combined 2 different scenarios that covered the breakdown around booking an appointment and frustrations stemming from not understanding the prognosis given by the doctors nor knowing how to act on it. We created a text messaging system as students indicated they used Google to find the number and then called instead of going through the complicated website eventually.
Wall Walking

Next, we just walked the wall of our massive affinity diagram and took notes, posted design ideas, key issues or any questions that we had regarding the notes we had.
This was followed by collecting hot ideas, key issues and questions that came up during the above session. An example of this is below. 

We started visioning wherein we came together to create stories of how new product concepts, services, and technology can better support the user work practice. The visioning team starts by reviewing the data to identify key issues and opportunities. This process included a lot of body-storming and more sketching. All judgement was suspended and we just churned out crazy idea after idea, continuously building on each other's ideas.
Once done with one vision, we evaluated that vision by evaluating whether the solution was technologically feasible and fits with the organization and wrote down any questions we had. 

Once we had the visions and their evaluations we analyzed the visions to identify the greatest areas of uncertainty and risk. Then we Created 5-10 storyboards that might provoke reactions that will illuminate the areas of uncertainty. We recruited more subjects and gathered their reactions to these storyboards to see what the limits were for our design.
Feedback consolidation

We consolidated all the reactions and feedback we got, ranked each storyboard to choose our final solution concept.

We identified a lack of information and knowledge amongst the students who had just moved from home to a new environment and had to take care of their health themselves. this was aggravated by the lack of information about services that CMU health services offered them. We suggested a way to inform students about what to expect from their appointments and a "better box" that included an easy-to-read summary that the student could access anytime and a box full of goodies that are relevant to their particular health situation.
We presented our solution as a poster to the client and got good feedback as they felt this was an extremely cost effective measure that was actually within their scope to implement.
Team Better Box: Elizabeth Miller, Haley Bryant, Joyce Ker, Loui Vongphrachanh, Raghav Anand and Tarnisha Washington
My Role: User Researcher

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