Truc Nguyen


Genee is a solution designed to improve the work process of Genentech’s field-based sales representatives, called Clinical Specialists. I, along with my Masters Capstone team, created a decision support tool that aggregates and visualizes information, allowing Clinical Specialists to filter down the most essential data they need to plan their sales calls.

Mission Statement

Design an innovative approach to enhance communication and relationships between Clinical Specialists and prescribers to help them determine effective medical strategies and treatments.

Our Users, the Clinical Specialists

We were tasked with designing for a unique set of users, the Clinical Specialists of Genentech. They are pharmaceutical sales representatives who educate prescribers about Genentech’s drugs. Clinical Specialists work mostly autonomously in their regional sales territories. Their organizational and technological ecosystem is complex. Our users are diverse in age, experience level, comfort with technology and geographic location.

Preliminary Research

To familiarize ourselves with the pharmaceutical sales domain, we looked at industry and academic publications. Our literature review included a survey of company whitepapers from competitors, job postings, case studies and research papers from health policy journals and conferences. We also conducted a competitive analysis of Customer-Relationship Management (CRM) software used in the healthcare industry.

Field Research

We used a variety of research methods to understand the status quo our users live in and the challenges they face on a daily basis. Contextual inquiry and Shadowing were extremely critical in revealing Clinical Specialists’ real work practices, decision-making process and improvisational skills. Retrospective Interviews and the Critical Incident technique also allowed us to understand causes surrounding breakdowns, happy surprises and unexpected situations. We also conducted stakeholder interviews people who develop applications and materials Clinical Specialists use everyday: we spoke with Business Analysts, IT Architects and Marketers.

General Findings

Among our major findings were that Clinical Specialists have difficulty accessing relevant data in the field using their mobile and desktop applications. They wanted a better way to share information about accounts, such as contact information for staff, preferences for visits or marketing material, and availability which might be useful to their colleagues. Many Clinical Specialists expressed a preference for using paper instead of using digital systems to capture information. For someone constantly on the go, and with only a few precious minutes to spend with a doctor, entering data took too long and was too error prone. They also have a sophisticated, and unique (varies between individual CSs) process for deciding which prescribers to visit. They need to take into accounts many factors and search through disparate data sources – on paper and virtual. Please contact me directly if you wish to hear more about the research findings.

Data Synthesis

After gathering the qualitative data, we had to make sense of the multitude of unstructured information in front of us. Our approach was to go deep and broad – we used different methods to look at the same data from multiple viewpoints. We systematically transcribed each interview verbatim and created a coding system for interviewee quotes. From our interpretation notes, we created two affinity diagrams to compare themes and issues raised by the Clinical Specialists in the field and workers at Genentech’s headquarters.

Visioning and Concept Validation

The end of our exploratory research phase culminated in a presentation and visioning workshop with our client. We discussed possible directions to explore based on the research findings and garnered stakeholder buy-in for concepts we proposed. After the visioning workshop, we created additional visions in the form of storyboards which we showed to our users in a remote “speed-dating” session where we quickly ran by each idea and got their spontaneous reactions.

Design and Prototyping

During our iterative design phase, we gave form to our concepts at increasing levels of fidelity. Each member of the team worked independently to create wireframes and interaction flows for a part of the application or sometimes the same part(s). We critically examined our ideas as a group to reach design consensus. We created paper prototypes, a styrofoam prototype, a mid-fidelity click through in Axure, a high fidelity prototype in HTML/CSS and Javascript and a physical Wizard-of-Oz prototype.

High Fidelity Prototype Specification
Get HCP Suggestions Wireframe - Table View Get HCP Suggestions Wireframe - Map View Visual Design Spec for Table Visual Design Spec for Notes
User Testing

After each cycle of prototyping, we engage directly with the Clinical Specialists in participatory design and user testing sessions. In the early stages, we sought their feedback to help refine and alter our product direction through open-ended activities such as “Speed Dating”, “I Like, I Wish”. As we narrow down in the design cycle, our user tests are focused on the learnability and usability of our system.

My Contribution

As UX Research lead, I select methods appropriate for each stage of the design process, write field guides and protocols for interviewing and user testing. We work collaboratively to collect data and synthesize findings. I document our process and findings.

I also work on the interaction design of all prototypes. I create sketches, wireframes and navigational or scenario-based flows. We often come up with ideas on our own, then share as a team and cross-pollinate ideas until we converge on one concept.

As Technical Co-Lead, I work on the front-end development of our high-fidelity prototype, creating an interactive prototype for the iPad using jQuery, HTML and CSS.

Methods Used

Literature Review

Competitive Analysis

Contextual Inquiry


Retrospective Interview

Critical Incidents Technique

Participatory Design

Paper Prototyping

Mid-Fidelity Prototyping (Axure)

Front-End Development


Luis Gonzalez

Chaiyawut Lertvichaivoravit

Alina Onishchenko