Premera Blue Cross: User Research on Chronic Illness



A  team member who worked at Premera Blue Cross wanted to provide his co-workers with qualitative data pertaining to customer’s and their health insurance.

Research Question:

"How do chronic health conditions affect daily activities, and what does the impact of managing these conditions have on quality of life.”

Research Methods:

  • Used diary study method over several weeks to collect pictures and video from five participants who suffer from chronic health conditions.

  • Conducted card sort and semi-structured interviews with participants to better understand their medical history, daily habits, and routines.

  • Analyzed data using thematic analysis through individual and group coding exercises.

Key Insights:

  • While wanting to relieve pain, some participants had to do this while worrying about the side effects that their prescribed medication might cause.

  • We also found that participants struggled with workarounds that helped them accomplish tasks while avoiding some tasks because of limitations due to their condition.

  • It is a struggle to build and maintain an optimistic mental outlook while dealing with the fear, uncertainty, and doubt due to the sometimes unpredictable evolution of their health condition.

Lessons Learned:

  • The phenomenology research methodology lended well to observing the lived experience of participants.

  • Although recruiting was done through convenience sampling, our team still tried to be very respectful to the sensitivity of participants’ medical information.

  • We used the “hidden swap” method for in vivo coding during thematic analysis of data. It took increased time and effort, but we felt our insights were more valid because of this activity.

David Harris