MGH Springboard Studio
RxStars is a mobile app for healthcare workers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital that allows users to learn more about one another and give praise on each others' work performance.
In this case study, I will explain the user research and insights I obtained to drive the final mobile app design.
June 2021 - August 2021
3 Physician Supervisors
Digital Product Mockups
I was tasked to help healthcare workers in an emergency department of 400 people learn each others' names.
Take a moment to think about your job. You probably talk to the same set of colleagues every day. You know someone's son just started little league. Your other co-worker just came back from the Bahamas. You're familiar with them and you know a little about their lives. But on top of that, you know them by name.
Image from Unsplash
That is not the experience many healthcare workers in the emergency department at Brigham and Women's Hospital have. Healthcare workers are running from patient to patient, checking charts, and trying to avoid burnout.
These 400 providers in the ED are also constantly rotating to various hospitals and may only be at Brigham and Women's as little as two shifts a month.
Image from USC News
WHY THIS MATTERS
According to the study “Health care professional development: Working as a team to improve patient care”, learning names has been linked to improving teamwork.
Teams that work well together are 60% more productive and 80% more likely to have a positive well-being.
Image from Unsplash
Ideally, I conduct interviews when the interviewees have at least 30 minutes of undistracted time. But ER healthcare workers are busy people! I got 5-10 minutes at most with a physician. I found myself power walking with a resident to pick up his lunch, as it would be the only spare moment he had. We walked down a busy city street as I tried to reference my interview guide, not run into people, and not get hit by a car.
I wanted to learn how essential name learning was to ER healthcare workers. What kind of effort was put into learning the names of their colleagues? I also wanted to know how their constantly changing work environment affected their work performance.
1 administrative staff member
1 attending physicians
I sorted the interview notes and analyzed them using affinity mapping. Below are my takeaways.
Not knowing names ruins your sense of flow. When a patient comes in and you’re trying to work fast, you want to say ‘Nick’ get the monitors plugged in instead of ‘Hey you’.”
I haven't been to the BWH ED in a month. I hope I remember where the workstations are.
I start reviewing cases with the physician assistant and nurse. I can't remember their names, so I just say "Thanks guys" and see my first patient.
It's halfway through the shift. Every bed is full and there have been two code blues. I haven't eaten in awhile. I need to keep these patients straight.
1. Names aren't remembered due to a lack of interpersonal relationships.
These relationships are not developed because the team make-up is always changing, leaving the team culture to feel impersonal. According to neuroscientist Dean Burnett, an emotional connection is needed before long term name recall is activated. Until this emotional connection is achieved, names are just trivial pieces of information that don't stick in the brain.
2. Introducing yourself in the emergency department is not a norm, possibly due to the high-energy and fast-paced environment.
Users mentioned not having the cognitive load to remember people's names. If they knew they weren't going to remember, there seemed to be no point in asking in the first place.
3. Users don't want to make it obvious they forgot a name.
I was sitting with a resident at his work station. He was logged on to a computer and his name was displayed on a bar across the top of the screen. He mentioned he's been working with the physician assistant two seats down for months. He knew her name at one point but no longer remembered it.
I asked, "Now that you realize you don't know her name, what will you do?" And he said, "Oh probably just glance at her workstation when she's not looking."
It seemed like him and many other healthcare workers didn't want to ask for a name that they once knew. According to Ray, Devin G., et al, people can feel insulted if their names are forgotten. It's their identifier, and it gives the sense that they are insignificant.
NARROWING DOWN THE ORIGINAL PROBLEM
Users need to learn more about each other, not necessarily their names. They also can't take shift time to get to know each other.
HOW MIGHT WE...
...help ED staff form more interpersonal relationships on their own time in order to create a more positive team culture?
LINKING WITH ANOTHER PROJECT
In parallel, I was working on a peer recognition platform, RxStars, that was created so colleagues could give each other praise.
Our team decided that the solution for peer recognition is also a good solution for name learning. It allowed colleagues to form bonds through praise. This seemed like a great way to foster group relationships and consequentially help people learn names.
Students from General Assembly had begun work on this project before I took over. They created about 25% of the app features. I built out and refined the app features, completing an end product that was ready for a development handoff.
Shout Out (Praise) Feed
Users could see the shout outs that members of their group gave each other.
View private shoutouts sent to you
View all private and group shout outs
Shout out feed
Join different groups where you can give shout outs.
Comment and like shoutouts
Users can add information about themselves so other users can get to know their colleagues better.
Users are able to look up colleagues based on their profession. Research shows that people are more likely to remember someone's profession rather than their name.
For a future version, I suggested a gamification feature. A user can swipe on another user's fun fact in their profile if it's something they have in common. Users can score points on swipes.
Being adaptable is a useful skill.
I adapted my interview style because of limited time. It's hard to get more time to interview when you're asking people to do it for free. I decided to start with one question, "How familiar are you with your colleagues?" and just probed from there.
I gained valuable information from conducting interviews in the setting where the problem was occurring.
Users are able to gesture to things in their environment and I was able to have more context for the problem.