Sometimes it hurts to get harsh feedback. The product team thinks they're doing great, features left and right, but end users have another story to tell.

Beginning with the end (user) in mind

May 15, 2015

Mike Lynch is fixated on it, fascinated by it, and fiercely protective of the client experience at ATI Nursing Education. Lynch believes that taking impeccable care of ATI clients – providing the best client experience – is the key to ATI’s success, and its future.

As Executive Vice President and General Manager of ATI, Lynch spends most of his time thinking about the best ways to train and support nursing students and educators. This company-wide commitment has been the major driver of ATI’s rapid growth. Lynch may be more sensitive than others to the client experience because he’s witnessed firsthand during his 12-year tenure at ATI just how powerful and important it can be.

“We’ve had the privilege to serve almost half of all nursing students in the United States, and we’ve helped more than 1.7 million nursing students earn their degrees and licenses and become nursing professionals just over the last 10 years,” said Lynch. “We learned early on that treating people well and giving them what they want is a simple formula that takes daily dedication.”

It’s hard to argue with the success of the formula, and it’s even harder to consider changes to it. With millions in revenues on the line, missteps can be costly. Lynch and his team knew they could improve the navigation and clarity of ATI’s digital products. The question was how best to research, design, build and deliver a bulletproof upgrade.

ATI hired Useagility to be advisors and designers for the new user interface and user experience of ATI’s digital products.

“Useagility wasted no time learning our business and diving into the finer details which is hard for some because healthcare education is complicated,” said Lynch. “They got it, and they also went straight to our users for input and feedback. They learned a lot, and they taught us a lot.”

Kind Truths Leads to Positive Outcomes

Mark Williams-Abrams, vice president of product strategy at ATI, remembers cringing a bit when he received Useagility’s initial findings on strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for improvement.

“The good news was that students were still raving fans of our products, but they had some frank feedback for us on how they could be better,” said Williams-Abrams. “It was a little painful, but necessary and valuable for us to hear.”

According to Useagility’s field research, some of the ATI layouts were described as being too tightly packed together, and some of the word choices and sentence structures just simply weren’t clear.

Based on what they learned, combined with best practices, Useagility went to work on new layouts and designs. More white space was added, fonts were made larger, and on-page way finding markers were added to help users avoid getting stuck or lost.

“We were just too close to our products in some ways,” said Williams-Abrams. “Useagility looked at them through the lens of an unbiased third-party and also shared some of the latest design standards and techniques that they’ve learned from other projects. They knew what to look for and they knew what to recommend.”

The fresh user-driven designs have paid off for ATI. Client satisfaction levels are up, call center volume is down, and ATI is reaching more clients more often now that its digital products have been optimized for tablets.

Seeing Things Differently, Proving Value

When ATI leaders decided that additional metrics and analytics were needed to reinforce the business case for ATI solutions, they tapped Dr. Nathan Walts, a solutions strategist with an aptitude for business intelligence, and an appetite for learning. Walts has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree.

The challenge at hand: help predict student success – NCLEX licensing exam pass or fail rates – based on patterns of progress, struggle, and work ethic, and then summarize these variables succinctly and clearly for educators to see and evaluate.

“We want students to pass,” said Walts. “That’s the ultimate measure of whether or not our solutions are working. We’ve got usage and performance data of over 47,000 students in our predictive model so educators get a high confidence indicator of pass/fail chances. We want to share it with educators so they can do something about it.”

ATI Pulse™ is the name of the new dashboard product. It’s primarily an educator’s tool for monitoring, benchmarking and remediation. Educators appreciate the new insights. The new ATI benchmarking tool is currently the only one of its kind in the industry.

“For the first time, we’re giving educators a way to see how their students are doing in a cohort of peers locally, regionally, and nationwide,” said Walts. “And they can actually see which areas of the curriculum they need to focus on with a student such as Med/Surg, Fundamentals, or Pharmacology.”

Walts said the Useagility team acts as a true partner. In fact, there are often healthy debates about findings, plans, and final designs.

“When we engage outside consultants, we’re paying for their opinions and vision. They should have them and be able to defend them,” said Walts. “We get that with Useagility and we respect that. They have firm ideas and they’re not afraid to voice them. It’s not stressful, it’s helpful, and it gives us a better end result.”