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Field Note - Intercept Testing in Montreal

Field Notes are a new content format for the Canadian Digital Service. Shorter than a blog post, a Field Note allows delivery teams to give more regular updates, share smaller insights and continue working in the open on a continuous basis.

Field note

Date: December 1, 2019

Site: Montreal

Activity: Intercept Testing

Participants: CPP-D Team Researchers

Length of Observation: Two Days


Train ride to Montreal - Dec/01/2019

Conducting design research for government services means that we’re often trying to conduct research with people who are difficult to find. For the Help Canadians access the CPP Disability Benefit (CPP-D) partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), we’re conducting research with three groups of people who will come in contact with the service: applicants to the benefit; medical professionals who provide supplemental information about the applicant; and processing staff at ESDC.

Medical professionals tend to value their time and they likely aren’t too enthusiastic about participating in a long survey. They’re also not very accessible to our small team of 12.

We attempted to, with some success, recruit research participants by contacting a famous doctor, associations representing family physicians and nurse practitioners, educational institutions for medical professionals, and local clinics to see if they would forward our emails to medical professionals. One recruitment strategy we hadn’t tried was intercept, where we go to where participants might be, rather than relying on forwarded emails and word-of-mouth.

On Dec 1st, 2019, we were on a train from Ottawa to Montreal to attend the Annual Refresher Course for Family Physicians — a medical conference that is mandatory for Canadian family physicians — to set up a table and test version 2 of our design with family physicians over two days.


Intercept in Montreal Day 1 - Dec/02/2019

We set up our table that morning. We had a sign that read, “Hate government benefits paperwork? Help us make it easier,” hoping it would offer an additional incentive on top of our small compensation for their time.

Hate government benefits paper-work? Help us make it easier. The Canadian Digital Service would love your feedback. Researchers from the CPP-D team sitting at a table with Canadian Digital Service banners and posters recruiting physicians for research

Physicians were interested in participating in our research, but said they couldn’t spare 15 minutes to sit down with us.

Intercept in Montreal Day 2 - Dec/03/2019

By the end of the second day, we had a total of five participants sit down with us.

We aimed for 10 participants. We were disappointed by our efforts and felt like they were wasted.

However, these five sessions gave us insight we couldn’t have gathered if we didn’t try intercept at a venue like this:

  • Medical professionals really don’t want to fill out this form;
  • The time crunch participants experienced during their 15 minutes likely represents the actual amount of time they have to complete this form in real life;
  • For our previous round of testing, our sessions were pre-scheduled. While these sessions also provided us with valuable feedback, participants were invested in improving this form with us. These new intercept participants are more likely to be representative of people outside of a fabricated research session; and,
  • Intercept at a venue like a training conference is really difficult to make work. Scoping down what we want to learn during a research session will be helpful for next time.

What's Next

We’re conducting our third round of testing with medical professionals and processing staff to understand whether our ideas on the CPP-D medical report work within their contexts. As we did previously, we’re asking medical professionals to complete the medical report using a patient case study. Then, we take their responses to the CPP-D processing staff to ask if the responses were useful to adjudicating the medical report.

By putting prototypes in front of real people as early as possible, on all sides of the service, we can learn what works and what doesn't to adjust our course.