Public Health England

Discovery phase for antimicrobial resistance in community pharmacy

As part of the UK’s 5-year Antimicrobial Resistance strategy, Public Health England participated in an interdisciplinary project bringing together academics and practitioners in graphic and information design, architecture, ergonomics and human factors, and pharmacy. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global risk that threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. The community pharmacy project team explored strategies that promote and monitor judicious use of antimicrobials.

What did I do?

I was invited by 'the letter g' design studio to join the interdisciplinary team in the role of a design practitioner to help resolve the challenge of communicating about drug-resistant infection. There was a cross-disciplinary approach throughout, and all teams worked collectively to evolve the brief. For instance, when discussing the context of communication for antimicrobial resistance, I helped assess the added-value of design and missed opportunities in past projects.

A critical deliverable of the project was to define and facilitate a discovery workshop that would gain insights directly from pharmacy staff and visitors.

  • Empathize: Understand the implications of antimicrobial resistance, existing knowledge of pharmacy staff, and visitors, and the limitations in communicating those risks in a busy customer-focussed and highly regulated environment.
  • Define: Examine the constraints and realities. For instance, touchpoints available in a limited space environment (stocked shelves, competitive value of display space, crowded counters) and time restrictions on pharmacy staff who may already be overwhelmed.
  • Ideate: Explore opportunities within the boundaries of those constraints, actively listen and translate suggestions from workshop attendees into smart, achievable and cost-effective solutions.
  • Design: Develop initial concepts and present to project team, iterate based on feedback until a solution is ready for testing in the next workshop.
  • Document and test: This was passed to the larger team to provide statistical insight on the positive effect of the project.
My approach

Throughout this project, a user-centred design approach has taken a starring role. By thinking carefully about what made healthcare communications effective, we could identify areas and target improvement. I quickly saw that legibility, simplicity and familiarity were critical to positive change. Previous campaigns had often diluted understanding through inconsistent messaging, further compounded by language or literacy barriers. Early in the process, I took the time to educate myself and reflect on the topic: untangling multiple acronyms and specialist pharmaceutical vocabulary.

Working closely with the founder of 'the letter g' design studio, I profiled visitors and pharmacy team members to understand and define users in the context of community pharmacy. These demographic personas were representative of early discussions within the interdisciplinary team, and focussed attention on how those personas may interact with the pharmacy space.

Profile assumptions were validated and improved during the 1-day workshop. I led a group of 5 attendees through workshop questions, actively listening and promoting discussion. I needed to understand the motivations, awareness and capabilities of people from different backgrounds, who might be unfamiliar with antimicrobial resistance. By creating an affinity diagram (posit notes of ideas that could be moved around and reorganised), I helped attendees further their collective insight, discover patterns, opportunities and prioritise outputs.

In the summary sessions, the dispensing protocol for pharmacy prescriptions was outlined clearly as a workflow. I worked closely with the group to identify the motivations, behaviours and touchpoint opportunities during that workflow.

As part of the final campaign, I designed slides for a 25-min webinar as part of the training pack for the pharmacy team. I worked closely with another designer to iterate designs on a checklist that acts as an aid for the pharmacy team, to improve antimicrobial best practice in community pharmacy.

Key outputs

The core outputs of the project were facilitated by a highly researched, holistic learning process that followed best practices for human-centred design.

  • Identifying deep insights into user needs, motivation and behaviours in the context of community pharmacy.
  • Understand and prioritise key touchpoint opportunities, to be followed up in a unified campaign that prioritises simple, consistent messaging.

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