National Innovation Exchange Platform: User Testing

The project

The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is comprised of England’s 15 AHSNs set up by NHS England in 2013 and has operated as the key innovation arm of the NHS since April 2018. With a number of AHSNs developing their own Innovation Exchange microsites, there became the need for a central, national Innovation Network platform. This would help to establish a more integrated health system, and play a key role in disseminating information, guidance and support to stakeholders interested in healthcare innovation. This was a huge step in establishing a national innovation exchange offer and creating a unified and integrated digital entry point to streamline the innovator journey.

The approach

Following successful user testing approaches implemented in the redesign and redevelopment of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN and Innovation Agency IE platforms, a process of user testing and research was implemented. This then enabled us to create a proposed solution based on the brief and our existing experience of working within the innovation exchange agenda for several years. This was then tested, firstly with the wider AHSN network and secondly with other key stakeholders to make sure that the end product is codesigned and therefore fit for purpose.

This collaborative method provided a robust and evidence-based approach to the design process and helped us make user-centred design decisions, which ultimately saved time and money that would otherwise be lost to redesign/development fees.

The action

Multiple user research methods were used to help uncover insights into user thoughts and experiences within the AHSN Network and SME/NHS environments. All of these results helped to inform our decision making when creating the Innovation Exchange national platform.

Once a specification for the site was agreed with the AHSN Network and a proposed wireframe and prototype of the site was approved, Cynergy scheduled 4-5 interviews with key stakeholders (e.g. an AHSN who has an existing Innovation Exchange Platform and proposed users from an SME/NHS background) to understand their needs in detail. In this time, Cynergy also proposed branding concepts with the client to inform the look and feel of the platform.

Following this and taking on board the feedback and recommendations from both the client and user interviews, a high-fidelity version of the protype was developed and this was then tested with the wider AHSN network and stakeholders, both face to face and online.

Cynergy hosted and facilitated an interactive user research and testing workshop which initiated and guided discussions to:

  • discover who the users were and develop user personas
  • identify the different challenges faced from both the SME and AHSN perspective
  • explore the solutions and how the national IE platform could help identify and solve these challenges
  • understand the vision for the IE national platform

We also conducted user interviews with SME users to understand more about their personal experiences, motivations, challenges and ideas in relation to a regional IE platform. This helped to further inform us on how we can make the national IE platform easier and more beneficial for these innovators looking to get the right information and get in touch with the right people.

To get a wider view of thoughts and ideas for the national IE platform, Cynergy created and shared an online survey with different AHSNs. This survey asked various questions around what challenges they faced, what they would like to see on the new national platform, as well as questions around their own individual Innovation Exchange platforms. Along with this survey, we shared a wireframe design of how a regional AHSN page on the national platform could look like to help gain some further feedback and identify areas for improvement.

The result

The feedback received from the different user testing and research methods employed throughout the design process was invaluable and helped Cynergy and the AHSN Network build a platform that will remain useful, interactive and engaging long into the future.

Testing with real users allowed Cynergy developers to create a user journey that was simple to navigate and provided clear signposting to get them where they wanted to be, establishing optimal usability. Responses from user research helped inform solutions that met their needs and also ensured that the platform as a whole provided the right content, resources and information.

Cynergy has over 16 years’ experience in user-centred design to create and design innovative website and app solutions so that our clients can effectively meet the needs of the end user.