We have received a lot of calls regarding the situation on the ground in China and the circumstances in hospitals across the world where we have strong relationships. We want you to know that Worrell has been actively responding to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) from our China office since mid-January. This effort has now extended to our operations in the UK and US as the situation evolves.

In a bright spot, we are pleased to share that as of this week our local team has been cleared to resume observational research on lifesaving procedures and technologies in a limited number of Chinese hospitals with more coming online in the coming weeks as the country pivots from a containment strategy to one of blocking re-entry.

Worrell’s design work fuels the development of life-saving medical procedures, biotech innovations, and new healthcare services that patients experience. Worrell creates value through the ethnographic and observational research work we do in clinical environments and respondents’ homes. The insights from this research create the foundation of our human centered design process. We have been able to keep this work on track using virtual and remote research capabilities including Discovery Kits and online in-depth interviews. 

We have observed that, in the midst of the global outbreak of COVID-19, patients as well as many healthcare providers in specialty service lines such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, and more, have also been disrupted from daily activities and are able to find time to engage in virtual and remote research studies.

For over 15 years our team has been employing Discovery Kits, a scalable method of collecting rich qualitative data without requiring the presence of researchers on-site. We have also been conducting virtual qualitative research using online in-depth interviews, simulations, and concept resonance testing to supplement in-person interactions.

Discovery Kit Benefits

Worrell has built a depth of expertise in launching thousands of Discovery Kits prior to COVID-19. Here are some of the learnings from using this approach:

  1. We can go much deeper and achieve more engagement with respondents reporting data over days or weeks where it is otherwise not practical to have a researcher present for that length of time.
  2. We use reflective exercises that give a study respondent an opportunity to dig deep into their own behavior and activities through self-reporting and analysis.
  3. Self-video capture has given respondents privacy and control over what is shared, and an opportunity to focus on sharing key moments in their day.
  4. Discovery Kits allow Worrell to scale research around the world with respondents across many geographies and many different languages without the requirement of travel.

Discovery Kit Description

Discovery Kits are either physical kits containing research exercises that are personalized and intuitively organized or digital interactions delivered through a web interface or a mobile app that are designed to answer specific study questions.

Discovery kits can include many research techniques including:

Journey Maps: Foldouts or placemats that guide a respondent through the mapping of their experiences, clinical touchpoints, emotions or workflow steps over time.

Simulations and Cognitive Walk-Throughs: Kits may include products or prototypes with accompanying instructions that are designed to help us identify usability issues, preferences, or other considerations. Products have included wearables, user interfaces, packaging, handheld devices and much more.

Letter to a Friend: We have routinely included a “mad lib” style writing activity that gives a respondent an opportunity to reflect and share their experience with someone like them. For years we have seen this particular activity yield powerful and emotional stories that reveal deep insight.

Kitted Video Equipment: The kits are designed to be easily set up and used to capture a specific set of workflows. Most commonly these exercises are used in clinical environments like Cath labs, ORs or other health care settings. We use multiple camera angles, head cams, and other configurations that allow us to see what is happening, and ultimately to turn the workflow into a visual representation full of detailed insights.

Clinical Ethnographic Missions: These are set up using webcams and allow clinicians to self-report on a real-time basis things such as: the workflow steps they follow, tools used, and pain points experienced in a specific set of tasks—all from their current environment

In-home “Make a Movie” Style Exercises: These enable respondents to use handheld video recording devices or mobile video capture through a secure app. This exercise includes guided reflection, self-interview templates, and video capture of environments and key moments that matter in a patient or family member’s journey.

Please note that Worrell complies with local laws and rules for patient privacy for each exercise and study. Additionally, we are using elevated hygiene and cleaning techniques for Discovery Kit contents and safety is designed into each study protocol. 

We also complement our Discovery Kit exercises with virtual In-depth Interviews and Resonance Testing, to understand “the why” or rationale behind the behavior or perspectives. As the situation evolves globally, Worrell has been replacing in-person interviews and concept resonance testing with virtual methods. Worrell has always used these methods to increase sample sizes and extend our research across the globe. We are now rapidly expanding these methods for the safety of respondents and research team members.

On behalf of the entire Worrell team around the world we thank you for the calls and emails. We plan to share additional global and regional insights that we hope can benefit you and your team.


Kai Worrell

Kai Worrell