Editor’s Note: In the fall of 2022, GreenBook’s IIEX Health event took place in Philadelphia, bringing both useful and inspiration content to insights and analytics professionals spanning the healthcare, pharmaceutical, medical, and wellness industries. Attendees found the content so valuable that we wanted to make much of it available to all who could not attend this in-person event. Don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming IIEX Health event now!
If you aren’t in those industries … how might you apply the learning within your own? At GreenBook, we believe that IIEX is more than a conference series. It’s a mindset. These are the forums in which the most important insights innovations are revealed, demonstrated, debated, and championed. What starts at the events drive change in our world. It is in that spirit that we bring you, directly, some of the poignant content we heard at IIEX Health.
Enjoy our On-Demand Video
Join Nikki Knox, UX Research Lead at Hinge Health, to discuss what user research is and how it can inform new products and services before launch. Learn how we can expand the understanding of what user research is and how we might work together to expand our knowledge even more. Click to view the video (courtesy of Civicom).
View more 2023 IIEX Health content!
Whether you were able to attend, or you were not, join us online to see what was shared by some of the biggest brands, the newest startups, and expert-level researchers across healthcare, pharma, and consumer experience. Here’s just two of the amazing sessions you’ll find on-demand:
Online you’ll find other fantastic sessions by speakers from Pierre Fabre Group, Novartis, Hinge Health, and more! If you want to stay on top of the trends in the healthcare industry — one of the largest spends in market research — you won’t want to miss IIEX Health!
Not familiar with the Insight Innovation Exchange (IIEX)?
Ten years ago, GreenBook embarked on a simple idea: Could we create opportunities for market research leaders to share ideas and collaborate to define the future of insights?
If there was something new to our industry — a company, methodology, or platform — that didn’t exist 10 years ago and is now considered a “best practice” … well, you probably saw it first at an IIEX event.
What starts here will change our world!
(Transcript courtesy of TranscriptWing)
Deanna Manfredi: All right, so our next presentation is going to be a case study called Win Before You Launch, and Nikki Knox, who is the UX Research Lead at Hinge Health, is going to be presenting the case study to help us understand what user research is and how it can inform new products and services prelaunch. Welcome, Nikki.
Nikki Knox: Hello. It’s really nice to see real faces, not just floating heads on Zoom. It’s also a little scary. [Laughter] I had a quote that I was going to share with you from Steve Jobs about how it’s not the consumers’ job to know what they need, but I can see that that’s a pretty obvious one for this group considering that you’re all insights research professionals. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a room with this many researchers and received so many introduction emails inviting me to meet, so thank you for those. I come to the field of consumer behavior through the lens of user research, and I now realize now that I’m about a decade or so into my career, I focused on being an in-house researcher for digital healthcare products and programs. I realized that there’s some interesting tension going on that I’d like to talk about today and also show a case study of how user research can be a partner with you and the work that you do as well.
All right, first of all, what is user research? This might be an obvious one, but I have heard myself referred to by consumer insights team as a tester, which is not necessarily wrong, it’s just not showing the whole picture. User research is typically known for doing usability studies. There’s usually a lab involved. There might be some analytics or screen details that are tested, and again, none of that is wrong. It’s just none of what I do. So what I’m hoping to do today is to expand the understanding of what user research is and how we might work together as this slide says right here.
Why this is important; because as you know, it is hard to get it right. Nielsen Norman did a study in which they asked people to complete a set of tasks and then measured their completion rights. They found that only 1/3 of the participants were able to complete the tasks, such as opening a checking account without needing to contact the organization for support. I know that this is obvious to us because we use this argument a lot to show that it’s worth investing in the research upfront to get to this point where you have a lot of customer service calls and expenses. It also goes to show that most of this, 70% of it, could be solved by simple design changes and updates, and that’s where user research really comes into play. We investigate how people think, feel, and behave in order to figure out what they need in a digital product or service. A classic example that I like to share from when I was a consultant pre-COVID, which feels like another life, was when I worked with the police department. These police officers had a feature request to add a database, a search feature to their laptop software so that they could search building plans when they showed up at a location. This is a pretty unique feature request, which is why the software company decided to hire a user researcher to come in, do some ride-alongs with the police officers to figure out what’s really going on here. After just one day, eight rides, we quickly found out that they don’t need that search feature. What they needed was to feel more prepared when they showed up to a new building, like a school or a medical office building. They didn’t know how to enter or exit the building, how many entrances there are, how to engage with the building, just basic stuff that they’re trying to figure out before they’re even able to respond to the problem that got them called there. Luckily, that software company was able to redesign how the information was pushed out to the officers and include that information upfront so that the police officers aren’t having to do that work themselves after they’ve gotten that initial push. It goes to show that human beings are really terrible at communicating what they need, right? We’re very good at guessing at solutions and then we have to back off of the solution to figure out what’s actually going on and how we might be able to help.
Another challenge that user research has is organizationally. Like I mentioned in the beginning, at one of the companies I’ve worked at, they referred to me as a tester. So I’ve realized that one of the key things that user research needs to do is to communicate who we are and what we do, especially when there are 6-8 teams that all are customer-facing. This simplifies it down to three for the sake of communication, but even at Hinge Health where I currently work, there’s behavioral science, there’s a physical therapy team, there’re so many other teams that touch the customers. Sometimes, it can help to differentiate us a little bit so that we might work together better. In my experience so far, if I’d summarize user research, it’s advocating for what people need for product and program design, digital product and program design, while analytics is focused on interpreting data, usually for the sake of the business. Then consumer insights, at least in the organizations that I’ve worked with, has primarily been working with the brand and messaging, understanding those broader patterns and themes, which you all know because it’s like most of your jobs from what I saw earlier.
The purpose of this slide is to communicate that we impact different parts of the patient-user ecosystem. User experience is really focused on impacting the digital product. Analytics wants to help business understand if they’re hitting their KPIs. And consumer insights wants to everybody to understand the market. If I had to simplify it down, if you forget everything about what I just said, sometimes it helps to think about user research is what do people need; and analytics as what actions are they taking; and market research as perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs that influence all of these things. So now I’m going to give you a little test. All right, so if you had to ask how many people dropped off in a signup flow and where, which team might you go to? Feeling confident? Yes.
Nikki Knox: Yes. How many we need to measure in action that people took. How much might people be willing to pay for a new offering? The second question; you had to measure a large size of people to figure out purchasing behaviors and patterns, who might you ask?
Female 2: [Unintelligible]
Nikki Knox: Yes, and then why are members canceling? User research, right? [Laughter] That’s what I’ve been setting you up for. Lastly, this one’s kind of tricky. What new product or service would members pay for and benefit from? Is this one team? Nope. This is where it gets tricky because it’s where we all have to work together. Right. So what I’m going to do next is share a case study of a project that I’m working on right now for Hinge Health and just how user research came into play in the development of this digital product in the healthcare space. It’s kind of fitting that we get to go after the last group because this case study is focused on pelvic health. You’ll learn even more about that today.
First, I want to introduce you to Hinge Health. Hinge Health basically offers digital physical therapy programs to people experiencing muscle and joint pain, and they do that along a user’s journey. It can be prevention if there’s a warehouse worker that’s doing a lot of repetitive movements and wants to prevent an injury to a joint. It can be a recent injury, like a sprained ankle. Can be chronic ongoing issues which is usually the back, and it can be helping people prepare for or recover from surgery when a medical intervention is necessary for these joints and bones. For this project, Hinge Health wanted to focus on pelvic floor disorders because it is an MSK condition that is treatable by physical therapy. We know from all the data, and especially as the world is becoming slowly more aware of women and their experiences and their bodies, we know that a lot of women experience pelvic floor disorders. One in four is a really high percentage, and we know that they have to wait a really long time to get care. We know that when they do, when they get connected to physical therapy, that they’re really proactive and quick to get the treatment that they need. So this is a receptive user group that we could target. Just to help understand kind of the complexity of this problem, all of us at Hinge Health have learned a lot about pelvic floor disorders, because it can affect almost anybody with female anatomy at any time in their life, from early on to trying to get pregnant to after having a baby to later on in menopause. But it’s not just that; it’s pelvic pain or pressure, urinary bowel challenges. It could be that you were snowboarding when you were 19, fell down, hit your tailbone, and now you have a pelvic floor condition. So there’s a lot that can contribute to this beyond just reproduction.
So Hinge Health could have just simply said, “You know what, we have this chronic program thing down. Let’s just tweak it a little bit and launch it to this new user group.” But when it was just a baby idea, they wanted to make sure that they understood pelvic floor and what that meant. If they said pelvic health, would people even know what that was, what it meant, what would they expect? Have people even thought about the intersection of pelvic floor and physical therapy? So that’s where I got involved very, very early on. Earlier this year, I worked with the business strategy team to do a very quick contextual study just to find out what is pelvic health like, what symptoms do people experience? Why are they waiting to get treatment? What have they tried? All that kind of stuff to help them inform that program design. Then once there was a digital design team onboard, so the user experience researcher, designer, the product managers, and so on, we launched a 12-week pilot with about 500 participants to do this thing called continuous feedback, continuous improvement, which I’m going to show you here.
I decided, as the lead researcher, that we would enroll people in waves into the program. So that’s what the arrows are showing. We have red wave. Then 2 to 4 weeks later, yellow. Then 2 to 4 weeks later, green. While these waves are enrolling and going through the experience, we could intercept them at these key points when they’re getting started, when they’re in the process of building a habit, trying to get used to adding exercise, therapy into their lives. Then 6-8 weeks later, we wanted to see what are they noticing about their symptoms, how is this impacting them, and so on. Then we could quickly turn around those survey results to change the actual program and pilot itself. So we noticed a lot of changes between just one wave of people, and then we used the diary study, which was supposed to fill in the gaps, but it turned out it’s better to use as a panel. So for example, the content team had a question about should the postpartum content be much different than pregnancy, or would it be annoying for them? That’s something we can throw out to the diary study panel group really quickly to get feedback on as they’re developing that content.
All right. Some examples of how this has been useful in what we’ve learned. We’ve been able to measure getting started, changes. Earlier, there was a person that was talking about multivitamins in gummies and those attributes. We’ve been able to identify all those core attributes and then measure them against each other with these different waves and seeing vast percentage point differences in how people are onboarding and getting started. We’ve also been able to address a lot of those information needs which, in the pie chart earlier, was 40% of what people struggle with when trying to complete a task. So, for example, when somebody is doing a pelvic floor exercise which is typically on the floor, they can’t be looking at an app for instructions. So it’s those audio stories and audio cues that we’ve been working on. Then perhaps most importantly, we’ve been able to find out something called symptom bundling, which is – we know from a medical perspective which symptoms need different treatments, but from a user’s experiential perspective, we noticed that they can’t do all-in-one program. They need separate pathways within this program to really meet their needs. The obvious one is pregnancy, like that needs to be different, right? But we weren’t exactly sure why. One key thing that came up in the research is that symptoms for pelvic floor get worse as you go on in your pregnancy, which makes sense, right? But if you’re talking to somebody, if all the messaging and the whole product is set up on improving pain, then you’re setting them up to feel frustrated and like this isn’t helping them. Right? So that’s a big shift there. Then we also found a new user group which is this preventative user which doesn’t necessarily have these daily symptoms or pain but wants to keep their pelvic health healthy and just feel strong and healthier in general, which is also a really different progression than some of these other ones.
So, the next steps, we’re getting ready to launch in March, then actually, user research will phase off. So I’ll phase off to something else in the business, and we’ll actually leave the testing, the screen iterations, all those details, we’ll actually leave it to the user experience design team to do.
I was excited to come here today because I want to invite you to partner with user research. It’s usually an in-house practice. It’s kind of underutilized, but they can work really well with consumer insights and other teams to design these digital products that will really help people get what they need. About two weeks ago, I wrote these tips but I was thinking today, not none of these are very relevant. You already know all this. I think one of the keyways that we can partner together is in the methods that we use. It can be kind of tricky. At first, I tried to differentiate between market and user research based on method, and that was a huge bomb, failure. Because we use a lot of the same exact methods. I can’t say I’m a qualitative researcher and you’re not; that’s totally incorrect. The most successful teams I’ve been on so far have had one market researcher or consumer insights and one user researcher, and they kind of worked together as yin and yang to fill in each other’s skill sets and gaps. So that’s been the most successful so far.
So now I hope that you consider user research as a superpower that you can use with the organizations that you work with, especially in the digital product space. I hope you also have some insight into how digital product tends to think about insights and how these teams work together, because I think that’s changing a lot as well and I hope to continue to study that in my career. Thank you. [Applause]
Deanna Manfredi: I have no questions in the app. Are there any questions from the audience? All right. Well, thank you so much, Nikki. We appreciate it.