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Prescriptions research approach — Discovery

Over the last weeks Common Good has been working with Well Pharmacy on a discovery project to understand and map out the current prescriptions services.

If you would like to understand more about this project and how it came about, you can also read Dan’s blog — ‘Why we’re running a prescriptions discovery’.

We are Fiona, design researcher at Common Good and Radina, behavioural researcher at Common Good. We have been working together on customer insight and findings. This post explores our methodologies and customer research findings.

Our research objective

The overall goal of this research was to understand what pharmacy customers value in regard to prescriptions. We wanted to understand what people go through when they are prescribed medication, and identify typical actions and emotions. This allows us to paint a picture of current customer profiles, characterising patterns of behaviour, and showing their problems and expectations.

The deep dive approach

Knowing where to start a project like this can often be a challenge. In a discovery project a team of designers, behavioural researcher, design researcher and lead strategist start by gaining a deep understanding of the processes, systems and key stakeholders involved within prescriptions process. We like to call this a deep dive, it includes:

  • Getting out of the building — we travelled around the UK to various pharmacies to witness staff processes and customer interactions
  • Speaking to staff and customers face to face
  • In depth customer phone interviews
  • Speaking to key stakeholders in the business
  • Gathering qualitative and quantitative data

To understand prescription customers and staff members we needed a human-centred approach. This is to truly immerse ourselves in the pharmacy environment to witness their situations, behaviours and motives.

1_xAPlLPwGIl3RVIdLvLVAnA Activities we carried out during our research

We weren’t experts in the prescriptions or pharmacy operations before coming into the project, having an outside in perspective was a definite advantage to deepen curiosity. Deep diving into the pharmacy world would allow us to ask naive questions and cut right to the core of any assumptions.

Our approach

During our prescription discovery we followed our strategic design process, this allows us to discover and understand prescriptions and narrow down our findings. Instead of ideating and prototyping ideas we decided to design and visualise our research findings.

Below shows our approach in relation to prescription discovery and some insight into how we synthesised our findings during the process.

1_m-cFSb-hW61-MZYYIHWm7Q Double Diamond process

When we finished our travels, we regrouped as a team to discuss our learnings and synthesised what we’d found. Making sense of all the information led us to identify the problems, needs and opportunities from a person’s perspective, we went forward to summarise who we are designing for.

Our findings

Based on our synthesised research findings we identified 4 key prescription users types we started to focus on:

  • Repeat prescription user — a person with chronic condition who takes repeat medication. Serving this type of prescription user offers opportunity to design a seamless routine around their needs, habits, and personal requirements.
  • One-off prescription user — a person with acute condition in potentially vulnerable situation requires designing service for convenience, accessibility, empathy.
  • Homebound — a person with limited mobility and vulnerable situation requiring effective communication and reliability.
  • New life circumstance — a person facing a change of life stage such as pregnancy or life situation such as moving house. This is an opportunity to design services around prescriptions for flexibility and personalisation.

It’s important to mention during our immersion we observed first hand how challenging working in a pharmacy can be. Staff are required to multitask a constant flow of clinical and administrative tasks, whilst serving customers both in person and over the phone.

Customers don’t witness the complex systems behind prescriptions in the UK. And customer expectations may vary depending on what type of service they want from the pharmacy. We need to design an experience which will exceed their expectations and deliver a professional and clinical service.

Guiding Principles

We started to establish themes which were repeatedly occurring throughout our research. These guiding principles act as signposts to the what, why and who we are designing for. These are based on qualitative insights from Well customers and prescription users.

Well Customer Experience Design:

  • Trust — having confidence in Well to deliver services as expected. It comes from meeting and succeeding customer expectations.
  • Care — design for patient-centric interactions to allow staff to make decisions which are best for the patient. This will reassure customers that the staff are making decisions for their best interests and determine loyalty to brand.
  • Personal — nurturing a friendly, approachable interaction between customer and staff. Ability to empathise with customers, adapting to their individual needs. Creating a personal connection with Well customers will levitate patient-centricity.
  • Privacy — ensuring customer ease, confidence, and safety in sharing any personal information with Well both in person and/or electronically.

Prescription User Service Design:

  • Convenience - recognising how the service can be optimised for accessibility and ease and adapting the service so fulfil the user needs.
  • Reliability - consistently meeting expectations through the prescription user journey resulting in satisfaction that drives customers to return to Well for future prescriptions. Reliable advice from staff will build trust in their professional competence and credibility.
  • Communication — ensuring efficient and effective communication between staff and customers, understanding when a person needs to be contacted and in what form they should be contacted. Optimising information flow between doctors surgeries and Well stores.
  • Value - clear and accessible understanding of prescription options and related services. Crucial to setting and managing user expectations, understanding the value Well have to offer. Gaining awareness from customers will leverage popularity and promote customers to continue coming to Well.
  • Flexibility - responsiveness to the patient’s individual needs and preferences with commitment to adapting according to their personal situation and change of life circumstances.

These guiding themes will ultimately help us design for the customer experience of the future.


To draw together all our findings into a digestible, simple way is always a challenge. This requires a lot of sketching, post-it notes and numerous cups of tea!

We need to define and focus the story prioritising the information we know is important. The mismatch between business operations and customer expectations is a perfect start to our service design challenge. We can start to visualise the current service and identify ways to connect the business and customer needs.

We designed many different types of end-to-end journey maps. Rita, designer at Common Good spent hours of time and numerous amounts of iterations testing designs so they would be clear and show our findings in the most comprehensive way. Below is an example of the prescription service map, illustrating the interaction between staff and customer showing both activities along the prescription process.

1_g4thBcbTUBCRerIzEujKHQ Service blueprint map (designed by Rita Cervetto)

In addition we mapped out the process steps for different types of prescription users to highlight key moments along the prescription journey that can optimise the experience of receiving their prescription. These prescription user journeys are based on in-depth customer interviews.

1_wYgca_lKjSsrxj2E0jPr2w Prescription user journey map (designed by Rita Cervetto)

Making insights visual allows everyone in the organisation to see an objective view of the whole end-to-end process. It offers opportunity to step out of the single silo focus of departments and raise questions like “Why do we do it that way?” or “How does this benefit the customer, staff, and our business?”

The service and customer journey maps are tools for collaborative ideation about the way forward. They should be used to ignite discussions, questions current processes and prioritise opportunities.

— — —

Our findings and tools will be used continuously in upcoming work with the Well Digital team.

It’s exciting to reflect back on the last couple of weeks, to see how much we have learnt about the pharmacy world. We are looking forward to discover more about Well pharmacy and use our tools to ideate new opportunities for the future.

Prescriptions research approach — Discovery
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