The three dimensions: Impact, metrics, and process

Collaborative project model helps assess user experience maturity

Ilene Schneider
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The three dimensions: Impact, metrics, and process

BOSTON—The Pistoia Alliance, a global, nonprofit alliance that works to lower barriers to innovation in life-sciences and healthcare R&D, has launched a free-to-use UXLS (User Experience in Life Sciences) maturity model to  help life-sciences companies to understand what a user-centered design culture will look like for them and their current trajectory. 

The framework has been designed specifically for life-sciences organizations and is made up of three dimensions—impact, metrics, and process. 

Within these dimensions there are five further stages of maturity, from a low level of one to a high level of maturity at five. The levels are described as:

  • A state where there is little or no existence of user experience (UX) at any of the dimensions

  • Isolated UX projects that may have several UX projects running independently of each other

  • Intentional UX investment where the organization starts to value and invest in UX capacity

  • Embedding UX into teams so that UX is now a part of each project delivery team and is proactively engaged from the beginning of each project

  • Transformational UX and services that involve a higher level of UX engagement from senior leaders, whereby UX is part of the company’s strategy and business value

According to Paula de Matos, consultant at The Pistoia Alliance, “As more scientists than ever are now working outside the lab, and often at home during the pandemic, UX-centered design is paramount for productivity and efficiency. COVID-19 has put even more pressure on researchers and created a more dispersed workforce. 

“If these researchers are fighting to ensure the systems they use are working, they could be wasting hours of their time instead of undertaking valuable research. We have launched this model following the previous success of our UX toolkit for the life-sciences community in the first phase of this project. This next stage helps organizations, projects, or products clarify their ambition of further integration of UX activities and develop a step-by-step action plan.”

“In our personal lives we are surrounded by intuitive tech that ‘just works.’ This same usability is now also expected in our professional lives as our reliance on digital technologies grows,” she continued. “The benefits of good UX in life sciences are significant and could impact the delivery of clinical trials, the development of the ‘lab of the future,’ and enable more virtual and synthetic experiments to be conducted. We hope this maturity model helps companies identify where they currently are on the UX journey and provides a clear path on how they can progress towards transformational UX.”

The Pistoia Alliance believes that UX is coming to the forefront in life sciences as companies undergoing digital transformation understand that there is no value in implementing new software unless researchers can use it fully. The UXLS maturity model enables organizations to measure the current state of their UX capability, with a framework to plan how to move onto the next stage. 

“There are many ways that you can use the maturity model,” de Matros explained in an article on the Pistoia Alliance website. “We suggest that colleagues individually assess their companies' maturity, providing comments or evidence for their assessment. Once all assessors have completed, we recommend that you have a facilitated discussion around each dimension, sharing why you have ranked your company in such a way. It is important to note that there is no right or wrong answer here, and the discussion around your company’s maturity is the most valuable outcome.”

The Pistoia Alliance is made up of life-science companies, technology and service providers, publishers and academic groups working to lower barriers to innovation in life science and healthcare R&D. It was conceived in 2007 and incorporated in 2009 by representatives of AstraZeneca, GSK, Novartis, and Pfizer who met at a conference in Pistoia, Italy. 

Its projects aim to transform R&D through precompetitive collaboration, and it aims to overcome common R&D obstacles by identifying the root causes, developing standards and best practices, sharing precompetitive data and knowledge, and implementing technology pilots. The 150 member companies collaborate on projects that generate significant value for the worldwide life-sciences R&D community, using The Pistoia Alliance’s framework for open innovation.

Ilene Schneider

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