We were asked by Health Education England (HEE) to conduct some research on the user needs of highly skilled information searchers, or expert searchers, in the NHS.
This followed a previous piece of work that we carried out for HEE, in which we conducted research on the needs of users of NHS library and knowledge services.
We ran a programme of user research to understand who the expert searchers in the NHS are, the types of expert searches that they are carrying out, and how they carry out these searches.
We carried out 12 one-to-one interviews with expert searchers from a variety of roles within the NHS. We also ran a diary study with 3 participants, carried out 3 field visits with users in their workplaces, analysed 169 responses to our user needs validation survey, and ran a workshop with 5 users. From the workshop we developed a set of proto-personas and experience maps.
A particular challenge with this work was to ensure that the users we recruited to take part in research activities were in fact expert searchers (ie people in the health service who need to conduct complex and frequent searches for information). To address this, we worked with the HEE team to identify user roles that were likely to include expert searchers. These roles included healthcare researchers and PhD students, as well as NHS librarians.
We presented our work, including 30 prioritised user needs, to HEE stakeholders. Our findings are being used by HEE to ensure that the needs of expert searchers can be met.