Note: Due to a NDA, only a high-level summary of the process can be shown. Details including findings and deliverables can be shared in person.
Program Duration: 5 weeks
My Role: Project Manager, Design Research & Strategy Lead
Scope project and author research proposal
Manage budget and timeline
Establish and maintain client relationship
Train & supervise junior researchers
Develop research approach & materials
Create analysis frameworks and preliminary visualizations
A 300+ bed hospital located in Los Angeles, CA, identified the occurrence of specimen mishandling errors, such as loss, damage, or delay, for “hard-to-get" specimens as a key issue at their facility, and partnered with us to identify the root causes of significant specimen mishandling errors.
Initial Thoughts and Questions
How are specimens categorized in the hospital? Does this vary between units?
What are considered "difficult to get" or "hard to replace" specimens?
What specimens are most susceptible to getting lost or damaged?
How are specimens logged?
How are specimens transported from the site of collection to the lab?
What are emerging technologies in regard to specimen collection and transport?
With a focus on the surgical unit and interventional radiology unit, we secured credentials to perform on-site observations. We performed several observations in both units, followed by in-depth interviews with the staff involved in the procedure. We also conducted in-depth interviews with leadership members from both units.
Based on the observations and in-depth interviews, we created a detailed visualization for each of the four locations, which provided visibility of and insight into the larger specimen process and allowed multiple clinicians to understand how their individual tasks, interactions, and pain points impacted the specimen journey.
Through these visualizations, we exposed the complexity of the current specimen handling process and magnitude of inefficiencies, challenges, and frustrations experienced by clinicians and lab staff. This included identifying errors per individual unit as well as errors that caused a “domino effect” across units. One of the key takeaways was that the current specimen handling process is largely paper- and human-dependent (e.g., specimen labels are partly handwritten, specimens are handed off multiple times before being processed, and specimens are tracked via paper logs), which created gaps in the specimen handling process and resulted in errors.
Through our research, the client team, which included leadership from each of the units, realized the misalignment and mis-communication that occurred throughout current process and were motivated to collaborate to reevaluate and adjust their process in order to minimize the incidence of and potential for specimen handling errors. Based on our research deliverables, our client will be able to define a comprehensive specimen handling strategy that includes business, product, and service implications and develop design solutions in order to streamline clinical workflows and improve patient satisfaction.