Challenge: Among Type II Diabetes treatments, the SGLT-2 class and its brands are relatively new. Along with lowering blood sugars and A1C, these brands also provide a reduced risk of cardiovascular death common in Type II patients. One Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company (the client) was among those who released an SGLT-2 brand expecting high prescribing rates given their market research and drugs’ benefits.  

However, the client hypothesized that there were better ways of educating health care professionals on the benefits of SGLT-2. In an effort to broaden their viewpoints and investigate new problem-solving methods within their organization, the client brought me in to provide innovative ideas that may result in prescription behavioral change.

Approach: A co-design process with another design researcher began with an initial face-to-face meeting with client stakeholders to set the foundation of our working relationship and understand the challenges they faced.

Once we had an overview of the pain points, business goals, and desired outcome we selected the Jobs To Be Done methodology accompanied by Hypothesis Driven Design as our discovery framework. We also narrowed our focus to primary care physicians (PCPs), as they are the largest group of prescribers treating Type II. To gain the most holistic view possible from the PCP vantage point we interviewed internal endocrinology, cardio, and renal subject matter experts, primary care physicians, and pharmaceutical sales reps with brand knowledge.

Additionally, we distilled and analyzed clinical trials and global market research and conducted competitive and their perceived value. We also incorporated observational and anecdotal insights from previous experiences that involved Type II. After synthesizing our research we used mindset maps instead of personas to document the behavioral triggers, inertia, and friction around prescribing. We identified four to six PCP mindsets and considered how their environment, background, education, current practice demographics, etc. affected their behaviors.

We held brief check-ins, as well as a midpoint meeting with the client to discuss our initial insights and findings. These were critical to communicating expectations, building trust, and iterating quickly. During one check-in, we were able to narrow down our mindset focus to four distinct PCPs, fine-tune copy, and gain access to even more research that had just become available.

With refinements made to the mindset maps, we then moved on to hypotheses. I helped manage had a running document in which we documented hypotheses as they came to us; initially drafting as many as possible. Over the next few days, we generated roughly 120 hypotheses using the If, When, Then, structure, including high-level experiments for testing. Further work allowed us to narrow our list to 20 hypotheses we deemed most valuable for Q1 of 2019 for our client.

Additionally, I redesigned the mindset maps to better reflect our project’s needs, create a compelling visual presence, and to be easily understood. The hypotheses delivery mirrored this visual design aesthetic.


Results: Our final readout was in person and began with a brief presentation setting the foundation of our process before revealing the final deliverables.

From there I re-introduced the four PCP mindsets and recommended two in particular as the primary focus. These mindsets displayed the most opportunity for prescribing behavioral change.

When presenting the hypotheses I facilitated a critical exercise to ensure stakeholders understood them fully, while removing bias from the review process. Starting with five hypotheses at a time, we handed printed copies of them to each of the stakeholders along with pink, orange, and green stickers. We asked them to react to the hypotheses by indicating excitement with green, hesitation with orange, and disfavor with pink.

This level of participation encouraged engagement and created a collaborative discussion. In real time we were even able to build upon some of the presented hypotheses and watched as the stakeholders looked ahead to 2019 with excitement.