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  • Writer's pictureStephen Ostertag

TIMBS Consulting: Details and Purpose

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Details: What is TIMBS Consulting


TIMBS Consulting is a research company that conducts a variety of research in the medical and health care fields. We focus on the following areas:


Class 2 Medical Devices:

-- Summative and Validation testing of human factors and usability engineering for Class 2 medical devices seeking pre-market FDA clearance (e.g., 510(k) reports).


-- Formative Usability Research on Class 2 medical devices for design iteration and improved usability.


Website Navigation and Task Completion:

-- Expert and/or Heuristic reviews of health care websites to improve navigation, discoverability, task completion, and satisfaction among users.


Empathy/Ethnographic Studies of Service Users:

-- Research on users of health care services (e.g., hospitalization) to uncover tensions, build trust and satisfaction, and improve health care use.


 

Purpose: Why TIMBS Consulting Exists

TIMBS Consulting exists to address the unmet need for medical researchers and research services, and to conduct quality research that is not stifled by constraints and limitations common in the UX field.

 

I spent 15 years as a sociologist; conducing research, publishing, teaching, mentoring, and running programs. As a sociologist, I worked hard at developing relationships and synergies between sociology and medicine and the health care fields. I taught many medical students and an increasing number of them were frustrated with the lack of people skills they developed in medical school. They came away knowing a lot about medicine and the body, but not much on how to interact with patients, how to listen and be respectful, and how to recognize and work against the tendency to objectify patients on a daily basis. At the same time, I was hearing more and more people expressing anger about their doctor's visits. Especially among older patients and patients of color, the common experience was that they were not listened to, their time was not respected, doctors and nurses were unprepared and seemed preoccupied, and simple snippets of information that could be very helpful were not shared until much later.


What happens as a result of these experiences? People stop going to the doctors'. From here, the health consequences are clear.


This is no longer the problem of few, but it's a social problem. I researched issues of trust and health care use back in 2003, and it was a problem then. It's gotten worse since.


One of TIMBS projects as a consulting company is to fix this problem, through our Empathy Research Service.

 

Somewhat related to the first in the lack of concern for the patient, are poorly designed and difficult to navigate websites needed to access services. As a user myself and someone who's helped others, health care websites are often a confusing maze of specialized terms, entering the same information multiple times, and unclear directions. If completing patient information on a website is necessary to set up an appointment or access a provider or medicine, but that website is confusing and angering, then that's a problem. This is especially a concern given the aging baby boomer population. What might be intuitive to the 30-year old designer is not necessarily clear to the 70-year old user who needs to order their blood pressure medicine or see a doctor about a newly discovered health concern.


Poor website design is careless, lazy, and harmful. It can be easily remedied with good user research.


Another of TIMBS projects as a consulting company is to fix the poor usability of service provider websites. This can be done with expert reviews, heuristic evaluations, or with research on website users.

 

As a trained sociologist with over a decade of experience, and having spent time in industry as a Senior UX Researcher, I realized there are skill sets I have that are unrecognized and/or under-appreciated in the UX field. These are not only in regard to methodology, but in people skills as well. I found the methods and research instruments too constraining, meaning important insights and findings went undiscovered, and the benefits to the client, unrealized. Good moderators know how to balance deductive and inductive approaches, know how and when to probe, can identify potentially fruitful avenues to explore that might not have been known at the beginning of the project, and know how to talk to users so these potential opportunities for discovery are realized. These skills can make a significant difference in product design, root-cause analyses, the narratives used around products, and their marketing. I found industry UX created this problem, and clients suffered. I believe I can do better and needed the freedom of my own company to do so. Thus, TIMBS Consulting.

 

TIMBS Consulting conducts summative, validation, formative and benchmark research for Class 2 medical devices that is effective, useful, and innovative; reviews of websites to improve usability and task completion; empathy studies to improve doctor/patient relationships and health care use.


Our clients get the reports, insights and information they need for FDA pre-market clearance, 510(k) reports, risk analyses, iterative designs, improved webs services, and more patients satisfied with their health care providers and experiences.

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