Learn How To Scale Your Healthcare UX Teams

Jennifer Fraser | December 2, 2021 | 6 Min Read

Scaling your healthcare UX team involves many considerations. We delve into some of these during a conversation with Macadamian’s VP of Experience, Jennifer Fraser.

As we see continued growth in the healthcare industry, more organizations will need to figure out how to scale their healthcare UX teams. We speak with Jennifer Fraser, VP of Experience at Macadamian, to learn about how organizations can successfully scale these teams in house—or what to look for if you’re planning to outsource your UX design work.


Macadamian: Why are health tech organizations looking to scale their UX teams?

Demand. The pandemic has accelerated a lot of growth in health tech. While this work can be delivered through external consultancies—like Macadamian—many companies are looking at growing their own in-house teams.

While an external team can bring in an objective perspective and a different expertise, an in-house team builds the long-lasting cross-functional relationship required for successful product creation.


Macadamian: What are some of the big roadblocks to scaling your UX team?

Hiring. There is an incredible demand for UX professionals right now, across all UX disciplines. This means that it’s a competitive market to attract talent to your organization. Another challenge is retaining this talent. Given the demand in the market right now, if you do not have a great employee experience within your organization, people will leave and go to a place that does offer that experience. Employees are looking to do meaningful work in a place where they feel valued, and today, they have options.


Macadamian: What should your new UX team structure look like?

This is a challenging question to generalize because you need to design the team to the culture and needs of the organization, but, what’s important is to have a structure.

Clearly define the various roles for your organization—whether that’s the job description for the interaction designer, versus the user experience researcher, versus the visual designer, and then within those roles, consider what the different levels are, that is, what’s the difference between a junior user experience researcher and an intermediate one.

It’s important to have clarity on this for both you, as an organization, and for the employees, so employees have a clear understanding of the level they are at, and what’s required for them to progress.

In terms of structure, it’s also important to develop an approach for the individual contributor stream within the organization, as well as a path for employees interested in people management and team leadership. All too often, there is only a path to management for experienced people within an organization and that is not of interest to everyone.


Macadamian: What’s the rule of thumb, if any, around how many UX designers you need in comparison to how many UX researchers you need on your UX design team?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the impact a UX organization can have, including the culture of the organization, and your approach to research and design. Increasing the size of the team, or adjusting the ratio within the team does not ensure greater organizational impact, better designs, or more usable products. You need to look at the living system of the organization within which the team is functioning to understand how to increase its impact.

Simply adjusting the ratio of researcher to designer to developer may not be great for the business.


Macadamian: How can cloud-based tools complement your new and larger UX team?

The latest design tools have been designed with collaboration in mind. They have been designed to facilitate multiple designers working together on something in parallel. Gone are the days of having to worry about version control for files.


Macadamian: What are some signs that your scaling efforts are successful?

Resiliency in the team. In addition, here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out whether your scaling efforts are successful:

  • Instead of reactionary hiring, within the team are you able to adjust to meet the constantly changing needs of the organization?
  • Is there a clear career progression plan for employees, and are they aware of their options?
  • Is there a succession plan for key members of the team?
  • Have you mapped out the composition of the team across the business needs of the team to understand where you need to grow the capabilities of the team, either through training or through hiring?


Macadamian: For health tech companies that choose not to scale in-house, what should they look for when outsourcing UX design work?

Look for clarity, internally, in terms of what are your expectations for that external company. Are you looking for them to take a piece of work and run with it? Or, are you looking for them to work in an integrated fashion into your internal team? Are you looking for someone that has a similar approach and way of working? Or someone that is going to approach things in a different way? The clearer you can be on your expectations and ways of working; the clearer you can be when meeting with potential partners to understand whether or not they will be fit for you.


Macadamian: What role does company culture play in the success of your growing UX design team?

As we talked about at the beginning, if you do not have a great employee experience within your organization, people will leave and go to a place that does. Employees are looking to do meaningful work in a place where they feel valued. Company culture and how it manifests itself through the employee experience is critical.


Macadamian: What can you do to make the journey of scaling your UX team enjoyable?

Scaling a team provides a lot of opportunities for both existing employees, as well as those that you are bringing into the organization, and with those opportunities will come challenges. To scale the team, you will need to ensure you have a strong foundation in place with your employee experience. Before you scale, take a look at your existing employee journey, from hiring through onboarding through tenure and to offboarding. Interview your employees, see what needs to be improved. Do the work to shore up the foundation, so it’s strong enough to scale. Then, just as you do with any design, you measure how you are doing and iterate on it continuously.


Macadamian: Finally, if you had one last bit of advice for a company looking to scale its UX team, but doesn’t know where to start, what would that advice be?

Know yourself.

Take a good look at your organization and how the work gets done. Not how it is supposed to get done, but how it actually gets done. You need to understand your current state, with all its bubblegum and duct tape, to understand what you need to do to get to your desired future state. And remember, it’s your desired future state. You design it to the needs of your organization, and what makes sense to its culture and goals. Start executing on your plan, and then measure and iterate on the organizational design as you scale.

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