CUA of the Month – October, 2010

Mike Geen
"You can't beat that moment when you uncover some new, really trustworthy information, and you think, 'I can't wait to take this back to the team."
Mike Geen
Senior Manager of Web User Experience
Express Scripts

Usability for Better Health

by Jim Garrett

One of the striking aspects of the field of usability is how it affects all areas of life. With Mike Geen, our October CUA of the Month, we see it can even affect one's health.

Mike works for Express Scripts as Senior Manager of Web User Experience, where he manages a group of three interaction designers and two content writer/managers. The company is a pharmacy benefit manager, which means it works with plan sponsors and their members to effectively manage their prescription benefit, making the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable.

Through the company's website, members can do a variety of things to make sure they stay healthy. An important one is ordering home delivery prescriptions, which tends to be the most affordable way for them to receive their drugs. For example, patients ordering a 90-day supply of their medication through Home Delivery can save up to 33% over retail through copayment discounts. And in terms of safety and dispensing of prescriptions, research has shown that Home Delivery pharmacies have even better accuracy rates than retail pharmacies.

Express Scripts' website can also help members find generic equivalents, compare drug costs, and even send prescription requests to their doctors.

Mike's team uses a lot of usability techniques to improve the company's website: card sorting (online, open and closed), in-person usability testing, remote and moderated usability testing, A/B design testing, user interviews, surveys, polls, web design standards ("living" documents that drive consistency in a design based on established principles), multivariate testing, user profiles, task analysis, flow diagrams, wire frames, etc., and the various software programs that support them. "Most of these I was familiar with, but, I'd say my HFI training helped me use them more carefully, accurately, and confidently," says Mike.

"The use of design standards has been the most concrete application from the CUA training. For years we were doing too much reinventing of basic things like form layouts, data tables, and inline help. Through my CUA training, and subsequent discussions with other HFI personnel, we were able to create standards that everyone agreed on. It has saved us a ton of time and really tightened up the user experience," Mike adds.

Mike says the most significant factor in increasing momentum for user-centered design is getting stakeholders directly involved.

"We created user profiles two years ago, and that allowed us to demonstrate who are users really are and why we need to get their input. The website is for customers, and they often have a slightly different perspective than we do about what works. Once your business partners understand that, you can start to create a bigger buzz about usability testing. We're still getting there, but some good momentum is building," Mike offers.

Mike's passion for usability comes through in talking about his job. "I've been working on our website for a long time, and it's a lot of fun. I enjoy solving problems in a group setting and designing solutions. But most of all, I enjoy the discovery part, whether it's quantitative or qualitative research. You can't beat that moment when you uncover some new, really trustworthy information, and you think, 'I can't wait to take this back to the team,'" adds Mike.

Mike rightfully feels proud of the company's mission. "Maintenance medications are very important to peoples' quality of life. When you talk to users about their specific needs, you really get passionate about wanting to help them. You realize you have a responsibility to make things easier for folks, and that you can actually help them stay healthier. For example, our website can notify a member when a prescription has no refills left or will soon expire. That situation used to be a big pain for members, as they had to print out a form, go to their doctor for a new paper script, mail all the information in, and then wait for their new supply. Now they can use our website to send a request to the doctor to renew the prescription. It's all done with a few clicks and usually results in a much faster turnaround time. And most importantly, it's easier, which increases the chances that members will keep taking their medication as prescribed," explained Mike.

Mike found his CUA training a great way to reinforce concepts in a more formal way and build the confidence to share this information with other people. "If you get into this field and are naturally intrigued by the process, you soon find out that your personal curiosity is not enough to help people understand the business value of usability. You need to learn the detailed reasons why it's valuable, and then you can talk about it in a more effective way. People respect you more," shared Mike.

"I use things I learned from the CUA training all the time. For those who want to expand and deepen their usability knowledge, I'd definitely recommend the training. It taught me a lot. And the most significant thing for me, honestly, was the exam. I took the classes over a three-year time period, so for me, the exam was way more than just a final step to get the CUA certification. Through studying for it, I really reinforced all of the material and could say, in a management-style way, 'I know of all of this stuff now and can talk on any of these points,'" concluded Mike.

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

Cancellation of Course by HFI

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