I believe that the UX discipline is centered around the soft skills of Understanding, Definition, and Communication. This is the second of four portfolio pieces that delves into how I’ve generated concrete solutions for digital health projects with powerful skills in Definition. You might want to start with “Delving into Understanding,” if you haven’t read it already….
Definition in my context here means giving form to something, whether that’s illuminating new service models or conceiving entirely new digital product solutions. When I practice definition as an Interaction Designer, I usually begin with creating models such as personas who represent the target users whose needs and goals we have to serve, and scenarios that illuminate how we will meet the needs of our personas with appropriate forms and behaviors for the product or service in question.
At St. Jude Medical, I helped the organization to identify that the Pacer Nurse, Marlo, was the primary persona who would use the Merlin PCS Programmer. In her role, she has a mental model that puts the patient at the center of matters, so she knows that patients are first of all eager to know the longevity of their implanted device. Then, she wants to step quickly through a series of checks to ensure the device is properly functioning and is programmed correctly for their current condition. Defining and then iterating (and testing) user interfaces for this workflow led to the creation of the trademarked “FastPath Summary” screen that sits at the top of the stack of interfaces in the Merlin PCS. This screen put every single basic device check Marlo performs into one place — with the longevity display near the top. (By the way, I am named on a patent for the device battery longevity display!) Every panel provides some key summary data — what I termed a “window into the room” of the full set of operations behind that panel. This innovation produces a much more usable and efficient workflow, while retaining easy access to all the power and detail of underlying operations that might be required.
For the Revenue Cycle Solution at Huron Consulting Group, I conscientiously applied the iterative design process to produce a dense yet usable interface that provided high-level statistics and a comprehensive worklist, appropriately tailored for each user role. Innovations based on customer insights included a small graphical element that indicated the presence of different types of items in the worklist, helping users to identify and prioritize key work activities.
This lengthy consulting project re-designing their Revenue Cycle Solution software extended into designing a full set of Business Intelligent (BI) interfaces that are used by manager roles in the various revenue-related departments to track and improve performance. My Information Design skills got a major work-out as I conceived a set of display patterns for different elements, representing business targets and thresholds as well as performance graphs and measures. The scoreboard area in particular was a major hit, offering key insights in an efficient and scalable manner.
For the Qantas Wellbeing app and Qantas Insurance website, I helped define the forms and behaviors of individual features, as well as leading the definition of the digital product roadmap and our team’s priorities with respect to discovery, definition, design and delivery activities.
One of the fun initiatives that I personally led was how the app could be integrated into the business for which Qantas is primarily known: aviation. Qantas is the premier national airline in Australia, and over half of all Australian adults are Qantas Frequent Flyer members. Creating tie-ins between Qantas Insurance (operating under the umbrella of the Qantas Loyalty business line) and Qantas the airline carrier was a natural business opportunity. Especially, the long-haul flights that characterize travel to and from Australia present some wellness challenges. (And of course, this was years before Covid-19 erupted on the scene!) One of the main things that happens is that people can get dehydrated, which exacerbates the impact of any germs that might be encountered in-flight. To address this problem, I invented a Water Challenge, encouraging people to nurture their virtual garden by logging drinks of water on these flights.
As one final example, I led the re-design of the Ellipsis Health app, now called “Rising Higher”. Ellipsis offers a cutting-edge AI solution that analyzes a patient’s voice sample and provides an accurate measurement of their depression and anxiety. When I joined the project, it was a bare-bones interface that was rather confusing for users and difficult to sell to clients; it now sports a detailed visual display that successfully guides the user to speak for three minutes on various topics and impresses clients and investors.
I am compelled to point out that almost all of these examples were created as a team effort; UX and Product Management work always ideally involves a variety of business stakeholders and subject matter experts adding their views and perspectives. End-users are also involved: participatory design methods and evaluative research (such as usability testing or presumptive design) with real-world users help to refine design concepts to a well-finished place before launch. The fundamentally team-based characteristic of working on products & services is why I almost never speak of “I,” but rather “we”, whenever I discuss my portfolio.
The last of the soft skills that I believe defines the UX disciplines — and which is key to successful Product Management, as well — is communication. Let’s explore that further via my digital design portfolio!