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Enabling great design in Australian digital healthcare

In 2022, the ADHA opened their Experience Centre as the hub of their national design practice. It is the physical culmination of the work we began with the ADHA in 2019; the CX Toolkit can be found both physically and digitally throughout the Centre. The Centre includes simulations of waiting rooms and doctors' offices for their design team to research and test in, and exemplifies how customer-centricity is at the heart of the organisation.

Back in 2019, the Experience Design Team were struggling to encourage customer-centricity in the ADHA’s strategy and product development and within their partner organisations. What started out as the development of a CX Toolkit has defined what it means to do great design within the Australian digital health system. The Toolkit’s customer insight and design methodology has given the ADHA, and their partners, an understanding of their customers’ needs and a practical and tangible way to deliver truly desirable solutions.

This impact extends beyond the ADHA’s use, to the experience of healthcare in the digital age for all Australians, now and in the future for decades to come.

The challenge

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) are the custodians of the design and delivery of Australia’s national digital health strategy - encompassing the creation and oversight of the digital health experiences of every single Australian citizen and health practitioner in the country. 

The ADHA operate in a complex ecosystem, serving the entire Australian health landscape, including doctors, patients, health care professionals, Australian citizens, and government agencies. This complexity prevented an organisation-wide clear and collective understanding of who their customer was. The Agency were struggling to prioritise customer-centricity across their extensive ecosystem, and design valuable solutions to cater to their varying needs.

With a small Experience Design team of just six members struggling to make an impact, the ADHA needed infrastructure that would enable the agency to apply and sustain a customer-centric lens to all their initiatives. Establishing a design practice that meets the dynamic needs of all these players is no easy feat, especially for a young agency like the ADHA, which was only established in 2016.

The team needed tools and resources that could be leveraged across the organisation, but unable to mandate the use of their processes and techniques, the resources needed to provide undeniable value to encourage adoption and use.

The situation

The approach

The research

The findings

The solution

We enabled a sustainable and scalable foundation for the ADHA’s entire design practice through the creation, development, and adoption of a Customer Experience (CX) Toolkit.

The CX Toolkit (the Toolkit):

  • was aligned to ADHA’s broader design system, including its strategy, capability, culture and design process,
  • included insights, methodologies and artefacts that are scaleable across ADHA and its ecosystem, and
  • aimed to equip all parties with a shared understanding of customers and best practice design in digital health for the customer.
"The toolkit doesn't work well without layers of strategy and the broader ADHA CX design framework. The tool is only as good as the design system you're plugging it into."
– Darian Eckersley, Director of Experience and Service Design, ADHA

The ADHA needed to embed the Toolkit into the agency’s cultural DNA so everyone could adopt customer-centric thinking and working. This meant ADHA, for the first time, wanted to use CX to guide project lifecycles and prioritisation decisions and needed to drive fundamental shifts in thinking across the organisation. 

To support this, we facilitated a series of embedment workshops with the executive team, stakeholders and project teams Australia-wide. These workshops generated a customer-centric shift in the way the ADHA approaches problems and supported engagement with the emerging Toolkit. To ensure the ongoing sustainability of the Toolkit as the basis for their design practice, we created materials that would continue to educate project teams on the value they would gain from embedding customer-centricity.

The impact

The Toolkit empowers The ADHA with an agency-wide baseline for customer understanding, and tactical and strategic methods for applying this to digital health initiatives. It has helped to embed customer-centric ways of working across the whole agency, from executives to project teams. 

The succinct customer understanding and methods within the Toolkit have been successfully scaled across the ADHA and their partnerships. Over the last four years, it has been core to the ADHA’s entire design system, enabling the CX team to rapidly scale from 6 people to over 50. It has encouraged collaboration with the Experience Design team and equipped them with the infrastructure to cement themselves as the hub for best practice design and customer advocacy within their agency and the Australian digital health ecosystem. 

"Self-service tools are only as good as the designer who uses them, and the research or data that underpins it."
– Darian Eckersley, Director of Experience and Service Design, Australian Digital Health Agency

The ADHA’s successful design practice, and the CX Toolkit’s insights and methodologies, have inspired partnerships with external stakeholders, including the Department of Health. The ADHA and CX Toolkit were instrumental in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, helping the Department of Health design and deliver the federal government’s response in a way that was customer-centric. 

"[After developing the Toolkit] we were approached by the Department of Health. They were hiring service designers for the vaccine rollout. We said 'we've got this research and tools'. They were blown away... we gave them some service design support and off they went and they input it into the taskforce. It's a great toolkit in terms of being able to pick it up and run... We really wanted to develop the toolkit in a way that meant that other people could understand how to use it and realise that they could embed it in their work."
– Darian Eckersley, Director of Experience and Service Design, Australian Digital Health Agency
The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA)

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