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How Discovery helped SXT to determine strategic direction

May 2016

SXT Health is a social enterprise whose mission is to improve access to sexual health information and services across the UK. Having worked with us for around five years (in which time we’ve designed and built two applications) Bit Zesty was the SXT team’s first port of call when, at the beginning of 2015, they made the decision to further expand their digital offering.

Discovery: Making sure we create value for our users

Although the SXT team had a few interesting ideas as to how they wanted to see their organisation grow, the nature of the new service was still undecided. Rather, it was our job to run a discovery phase – to carry user research and gather data which would help all of us understand exactly what SXT’s target users (in this case, clinic staff and consultants/doctors) wanted and needed.

Our discovery phase was run collaboratively with SXT’s founder, Dr. Menon-Johansson. He played a vital role in putting us in touch with the right people, arranging an observation session at the sexaul health clinic as well as sharing with us the challenges that he and his colleagues in the industry are experiencing. When your client is a domain expert themselves, it makes sense to get the most value out of their knowledge and experience.

“When your client is a domain expert themselves, it makes sense to get the most value out of their knowledge and experience.”

For the first rounds of research we held a series of telephone interviews with doctors and clinic staff from across the UK. The aim was to find out about staff/clinic needs by learning quite broadly about their processes, attitudes and operations in the workplace. We covered everything from client demographics, numbers of staff, appointment handling and other digital services they might already use. We interviewed staff members from a total of 8 different clinics around the UK, and also collated feedback from Dr Menon-Johansson that he gathered at the sexual health conference BASHH.

Towards the end of the discovery phase, we were fortunate enough to be able to visit Brixton Brook clinic and hold a contextual study, where we could better explore the details of daily operations in a sexual health clinic. It was an eye-opening day – interviews with consultants and other staff members, collecting of documents that would help us understand how the clinic works (ie. forms, data sheets), observing the morning running of the clinic (although we couldn’t sit in on any appointments for privacy reasons).

Deciding on strategic direction

The SXT team initially had a few ideas for additional services they could offer clinics. However, the aim of the discovery phase was to work out which one of these potential services would provide the most value to the clinics and their patients while being commercially viable for SXT.

We looked at general day-to-day operations and how potential digital systems could make clinic workers’ lives easier. We also took what doctors and nurses themselves said they wanted, and tried to identify key areas in which the clinics could run more smoothly with our help.

After three weeks of researching and analysing the quantitative and qualitative data we had collected, together with Dr Menon-Johansson, we decided that the most valuable core feature for clinics was a partner notification system.

What is partner notification?

When a patient tests positive for an STI, they meet a health advisor or clinician to receive advice and treatment. During this consultation the clinician also has to encourage the patient to let their past sexual partner(s) know about the infection (as every clinic has partner notification KPIs that they have to meet in order to help reduce the spread of STIs).

Partners might be infected too, and they need to be checked at a sexual health clinic. So partner notification – where you contact all of a patient’s past sexual partners – is important because it can stop an STI spreading, and also limit the risk of a patient being re-infected.

Please read SXT: In-depth user research on the path to reducing the spread of infections and the Case Study to learn more about the Partner Notification project.


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