Springboard’s experience in user research and co-creation

12 January 2023

Springboard’s user research process

User research needs systematic and proven methodology to ensure it is productive, focused, and complete (does not “forget” to explore important questions). Springboard uses its experience and careful planning to ensure each phase of user research has clear objectives.

Some business units may have products already on the market. In these cases the focus might be on understanding the specific challenges and inconvenience that the healthcare professional or patient experiences and gaining their input to improvements through a co-creation process. The steps in the figure below would be selected and adapted to suit the project.

User research stages

User research stages

The scale and structure of the user research varies based on the product development stage. For an early-stage project, we would suggest conducting a small-scale contextual enquiry (research in the intended user’s natural environment). This allows you to gather user-led requirements to guide the development and make informed design decisions.

Springboard’s typical process for user research involves the development of a recruitment screener and study protocol. Sometimes our clients or partners already have a panel of healthcare professionals, patients, or other users. In other cases, we work with trusted agencies specialising in recruitment of suitable candidates. Fieldwork (conducting in-person studies and workshops) can be performed in any location around the world, and we use a viewing facility local to the relevant candidates with the equipment and a one-way mirror for clients and interested parties to observe without interfering with the study.

On many projects, Springboard has designed and created “handling models”, “storyboards”, and “example Instructions for Use” which show the form factor and key use steps so that they can be used in research with healthcare professionals and patients.

Case studies

Usability study and co-creation with healthcare professionals and patients

Springboard’s client was developing a new pen injector.

Springboard provided a turn-key study including a novel way of engaging healthcare professionals:

  • The healthcare professionals tried using the device without instructions first, then with instructions. Both their commentary and user errors were captured throughout.
  • The healthcare professionals then observed patients using the device without then with instructions, providing commentary throughout.


Cocreation workshop

Cocreation workshop

The fascinating insights were discovered where healthcare professionals train users to behave contrary to the Instructions for Use. For example, the Instructions for Use say that, when there is not enough drug left in the cartridge for a complete dose, the patient should deliver what they can from the current cartridge and complete the dose using drug from a new cartridge. Some healthcare providers believe that this is too complicated for their patients and instead recommend that patients discard a cartridge if it does not have enough drug for a full dose, and take the full dose form a new cartridge.

The project then explored the preferences and concerns about new concepts so that the healthcare professionals and patients could guide the design from an early stage.

User research suite

User research suite. For this project the use environment was home or office.

Key opinion leader interviews on the future of parental drug delivery

Springboard’s client is a leading drug delivery device company and needed to create a product portfolio strategy to meet the unmet needs of future patients, pharmaceutical customer, and other stakeholders.

The time taken to develop completely new device platforms is long, so predictions need to be made over a timescale of 5 to 10 years.

Springboard’s client contracted Springboard to conduct a series of interviews with key opinion leaders in the industry including:

  • Healthcare professionals.
  • Patient support groups.
  • Senior device directors at pharmaceutical companies.
  • Futureologists.
  • Academia.
  • Start-ups.
  • Regulatory affairs.
  • Device manufacturers.
  • Data and eHealth executives.

Springboard used its proven research process to define the interview protocols, organise recruitment, moderate interviews, and interpret and report the results.

Whilst the specific findings and recommendations are, of course, confidential, we can say that adherence and poor usability are the main unmet needs. In contrast, drug delivery devices are rarely seen as the cause of delays in time to market.

More detailed findings informed Springboard’s client about which delivery technologies to invest in, and when.

Usability study on new drug delivery device

Springboard and its client are developing a new, more capable, autoinjector.

As part of the overall development project, Springboard planned, conducted, and analysed a formative evaluation study.

Springboard provided all the research programme including:

  • Usability Engineering Plan.
  • Workshop amongst stakeholders to plan and align on the study design.
  • Recruitment screener for the recruitment agency.
  • Production of example Instructions for Use.
  • Study protocols.
  • Fieldwork (conducting the study).
  • Formal reports for stakeholder communication and for regulatory purposes.
  • Design changes to address any usability issues uncovered.

For more information or to discuss your needs in user research and co-creation, please contact Leanne Yip.