When it comes to charities with a healthcare focus, it’s crucial that a new product or service meets actual patient needs. We can’t afford to wait until the end of a project to discover that what we built doesn’t help them.

Reason delivered the below case study and presentation at the patient information forum ( PIF) conference. 

At Reason Digital, we incorporate an agile ethos when consulting with patients and service users to co-produce solutions collaboratively. One of the ways we can collaborate is through a one-week intensive lean design sprint. WellChild came to us with an idea to create an app to support parents managing the medicine routine for their sick children.

This post looks at why we needed a design sprint and the sort of workshop activities that are included, so hopefully, you’ll know what to expect.

Why did we need a lean design sprint?

Our head of Design has previously shared the merits of design sprints for the Third-Sector.

But in a brief summary the design sprint for WellChild was needed for the following reasons:

  • To test viability early on as a proof of concept
  • To ensure that the solution met the patient needs in reality
  • To help secure funding to further develop the product

What’s in a lean design sprint?

Over the course of a week there are a number of key workshop activities that we explore to get to a proof of concept.  

Assumptions mapping

We deconstruct the project brief and any of its underlying, implicit assumptions, and map each of these onto axes representing ‘Urgency’ and ‘Uncertainty’. This helps both teams to visually identify which aspects of the project require further research, definition or specification at an early stage.

The result acts as a shared ‘progress tracker’ which links research, design and development building visibility of the project’s progress as assumptions move from uncertain to certain. The remainder of the sprint is centred around tackling the most pressing assumptions to resolve issues that could hinder the project.

User personas

To ensure the product meets the needs of its potential users, it’s important to know all we can about them, as user personas help us plan and design with empathy; with real people in mind.  User personas also anchor the team back to user needs and prevents us getting distracted by stakeholder feedback.

We were lucky that as part of the WellChild sprint we had service users and staff present who represented our key personas, helping build out a detailed picture of these four key areas.

  1. Basic information – Name, age, sketch
  2. Demographics – Lifestyle, social habits, family?
  3. Behaviours – How do they interact with technology, what are their current habits?
  4. Wants and needs – Required tasks


A sketching exercise is a really creative and fun way to explore an array of design solutions very quickly. It enables stakeholders to input and the team to collectively arrive at a preferred route which can be developed further.

Sketching also allows everyone to explain their thinking around what might happen next and how you might interact with the solution. This nuance is hard to extract from a written proposal and helps to gets a sense of the common patterns and themes that are emerging, as well as fleshing out any deeper level requirements that might not have been considered. These can also be referred to as ‘content outlines’.


After the sprint team have explored different design solutions via paper sketching, this allows the design team to create a rapid prototype to be tested  for usability. In the spirit of “show, don’t tell” – it is much easier to demonstrate a concept than to describe it, and allows stakeholders to get an early tangible sense of what could be delivered.

Usability Testing

The final phase of the sprint is usability testing which allows us to test out the prototype on real users. The focus is to test out the key journeys and by recording the session, this provides valuable user interaction insights and further product improvements. Getting this level of user insight so early on in a project helps to ensure that the solution meets these key usability criteria:

  • Useful
  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Usable
  • Desirable

For example, for WellChild, the mechanism of marking an action as complete could be too simple that it risks a parent or carer saying they had administered the medicine when it hadn’t been. These subtle interaction considerations are why usability testing can be so valuable to quickly identify any flaws and find alternative solutions


The outcome of this design sprint was to validate concepts early on, to evidence the user need so that this insight could then be used as part of a bid to help secure the funds for the discovery and app build.

If want to find out about how you can use these techniques or how a Reason Digital lean design sprint could work for you then email us hello@reasondigital.com or give us a call on 0161 660 7949.

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