I believe that education should be delightful. 

Project Details

Organization: Nebraska Medicine  |  Healthcare  |  2018

Project Type: Curriculum  |  Infographic  |  Video 

Software & Services: Visme  |  Adobe Photoshop CC 2018  |  Custom Graphics

Brief Background:  Tube station accidents occur when a specimen being sent breaks open in the tube requiring a shut down and usually results from someone not following proper procedures. The needs analysis uncovered the "why" comes down to either a new employee not being trained due to the lack of standardized training, or an employee choosing not to follow the proper process because they think the shortcuts will save them time and effort. Unfortunately, when accidents happen, they are extremely costly and cause safety concerns. 

Project Goal: For new employees, the goal was easy - create a standardized piece of education all new hires would take. For veteran employees, it was more about reminding them why their shortcuts aren't going to save them time if they cause an accident. 

Primary Obstacles: If employees know how to do something correctly, but choose not to, this is a performance issue and not something training can fix. However, the use of shortcuts was widespread and not confined to a few people whose performance could be corrected. On the flip side, even if you properly train new hires, they are likely to pick up the bad habits of other employees which will negate the benefit of training. 

Design & Development Solutions

Micro-learning Video: The video was created using TechSmith Camtasia and featured a clinical educator walking through the steps of correctly packaging specimens and sending them in the tube station. An earlier needs analysis provided detailed information about the top incorrect practices that lead to accidents, so after the correct process was shown, several incorrect videos were shot showing those common errors. The video would pause and a text box would appear as well as circles or arrows pointing out the exact error being demonstrated. Sound effects were also used as emphasis. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues, the video is not available here to be viewed. 

Infographic: While the video was for new employees, the infographic was primarily aimed at current employees. Since training was unlikely to change any behaviors long term, I decided to keep it simple by using an infographic combined with adult learning theory. 

Adult Learning Theory: One of the major principles of adult learning theory is that the learning has to directly relate to the adult learner's job. It can't be abstract or conceptual. It needs to be task oriented, based in personal experience, with immediate application. Telling an employee that the action costs the hospital money isn't enough. Telling an employee that they are placing others in harm's way or that their actions might create significant delays for themselves and others...that's a little more applicable. 

Humor: If employees already know how to do something but choose not to, a typical serious "do it or else" communication is probably not going to catch their attention, let alone cause behavior change. During a conversation about these accidents, one of the typical examples described was when a stool specimen hadn't been properly sealed and burst open inside the tube system creating a health hazard, as well as a gross clean-up job. While describing this, everyone struggled to suppress their inner 12 year old from giggling during meetings. It was a universal reaction, so I decided to use that humor in the infographic to capture attention, make people smile despite themselves, and make the information memorable. Most of the education created in a hospital is serious and sometimes emotional. This was one of those moments where humor could be used as a nice change of pace.

I even researched the efficacy of using bathroom humor to motivate adults to action and it turns out a lot of companies have used it to great success of their brand. Forbes covered the success of Febreze's 2018 Super Bowl ad and the measurable increase in sales. Adweek covered the topic and Poo-Pourri and Squatty Potty's original YouTube ads have been seen nearly 80 million times and launched the brands from internet-only sales to being carried in stores everywhere.

Result Reflection: And it worked! Soon after launch, I was introduced to someone who immediately exclaimed, "Oh wow you're the person who made the poo poster! That was fantastic. I think about it every time I use the tube station. Everyone loves it." Early feedback was that the education was delightful, caused conversation and awareness. I moved on before a proper evaluation of the data could be done to measure the effectiveness, but the early response seemed promising.

Personal Reflection: Humor was a big break in the norm for me and is always a bit of a risk, but it was worth the risk this time. In any case, working in a hospital meant this wasn't even the first time I'd ever illustrated stool samples for educational purposes. Humor works. It's not easy to pull off, but when you can, it's so unexpected that it's impossible to ignore. It takes away the perfect polish of professionalism and makes the education feel real, like it was made by a real human being who cares about the other real human beings behind the screens. It's personal and memorable and not entirely unlike the various memes shared all over social media. And sometimes when everything is serious and important then nothing can be, and humor can act as a pressure valve. It gives you permission to be yourself and connects you to others in a way that few things can. Everyone loves a moment of shared contagious laughter.