February 6, 2013
Electronic record systems are being adopted in the mental health field, but how big data will empower therapists and their patients is still an open question. More data and bigger data isn’t helpful until we can render meaning from it. To make it meaningful, we need “everyday analytics.” That is, we need ways of making sense of new streams of data that don’t require us to know a big data analyst or to become one ourselves. “Data Visualization for Psychotherapy Progress Tracking” published in the SIGDOC’12, proceedings chronicles how a design team I was part of approached the challenge rendering new analytical tools for everyday use in evidence-based pscyhotherapy.
Led by psychologist and product owner Kelly Koerner of the Evidence Based Practice Institute our team of one visual designer (Heidi Connor), two programmers (Rohit Sharma & Mike Lipp), and myself used a process of continuous iteration with stakeholders to design several analytics dashboards for therapists. As the user experience researcher, I designed and led the product evaluations and interviews. Our product owner and our designer sat through the evaluations. This turned out to be efficient for team learning. Sometimes Connor would have a new design element sketched by the end of an evaluation. Instead of batch testing our designs, we scheduled evaluations every few days. I ensured that the full team got nearly instant feedback on each evaluation. In this way, learning across the team happened on a continuous basis. No big reports to read, just short emails of key findings to breeze through about twice a week. In the context of a domain heavy design, where there are a lot of details to recall about the user experience, this approach seemed to work well.
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