Innovation in Pharma through design sprints

How we have run design sprints in the pharmaceutical industry to achieve innovation

Pharma design sprint


Graphite has been working with this client at a global level and a local level in the US, Canada and the UK to provide strategic consultancy, UX and UI design for a key digital initiative, a multi-channel digital product that allows Healthcare Professionals around the world to engage with our client. Graphite has worked with this global brand to deliver the next generation of this platform, and together we are working toward a truly customer experienced focused approach. The platform is set to evolve across multiple channels.

A vital element of this project has been to involve key stakeholders across several departments and business functions. Graphite aimed to bring speed and innovation to the project while still navigating important regulatory requirements. The team have worked together using a lean and iterative approach and cross-department collaboration. Throughout the process, we have asked stakeholders to adopt new ways of working using design thinking methodology, and we have also run several design sprints with the client teams around the world.

A Digital Hub for HCPs - Design Sprints and Prototyping

The hub is a key tool used by Healthcare Professionals around the world as they prescribe our client's products, and by Product Brand Managers that upload resources to the hub. Our global client offers hundreds of products to millions of Healthcare Professionals, and this tool allows them to access safety and dosage information when prescribing medication easily. This tool is used across our client's entire global footprint.

Our design team took an innovative and iterative approach to engage the business and encourage support for the next generation portal. We helped stakeholders to adopt a new way of working by using design sprints and design thinking methodology. 

We have worked with this client to explore and validate concepts from around the business, bringing cross-functional teams together in one group both within our Brighton studio, remotely and at client locations to ideate, innovate and create testable prototypes that could be validated with users. In many cases, we tested a potential solution with users in just one week. The approach has allowed us to bring diverse groups together and work closely with legal and regulatory colleagues to enable them to be involved from the beginning of the process, rather than approving a finished product. Together we’ve been able to manage the balance between innovation and regulation.

Knowledgeable, skilled, professional and personable team with a great approach to mining insight and converting into tangible business action. A strategic partner, not just a vendor.
Global Product Lead, Digital
Graphite Digital Journey Mapping

The Design Sprint process

Innovation can be a challenge for large organisations when there are multiple teams and stakeholders to unite as well as complex industry regulations. Turning ideas into delightful customer experiences in this landscape can be a real challenge. Design sprints offer a good process to combat these challenges and can create a healthy path to success when launching new experiences and products. At Graphite, we don’t always structure the design sprint process in the same way as Jake Knapp and the Google Ventures team initially designed it, but we do always make sure there is a clear plan for each day, and we follow a clear path.

Together the teams spend the first day understanding the problem, revisiting user research and interviewing stakeholders. This is an opportunity for members of a sprint team that may come from different departments to unpack all they know about the problem, their understanding of the customer and to share knowledge. Together the team will define the sprint goals and vision. Then the teams work to ideate and sketch solutions to the problem, before deciding which routes to storyboard, prototype and test with users. 


All of our work on the hub for Healthcare Professionals is mobile-first, from research through UX design and the eventual design system. In addition to this, our work is implemented throughout the client HCP digital estate, including in dedicated mobile apps where we have focused our efforts on improving registration and search. With a user-centric mindset, we designed a modular global registration service. Through iterations and user testing across multiple markets, we were able to fine-tune registration and increase conversion on a global scale.

Measuring outcomes

We report across a suite of metrics, with a focus on specific KPIs that drive value for non-transactional sites and provide insight into the relationship between our client and HCPs. These quality-focused metrics allow us to measure the impact of the site in each market, providing insight into the highest performing templates and components for each scenario, and making data-driven recommendations for future improvements.

White board design sprint
Graphite is a key partner for us. Their user focus, product insight, design thinking and creative capability complement our strategy perfectly.
Senior Director, Multichannel Marketing

The benefits of working in design sprints

By utilising a design-led approach, we were able to unite a cross-functional team from the beginning of the process, so everyone was working towards a clear goal and able to understand and contribute to the solution, which increased team morale. Through the design sprint process, we were able to reduce the approval time between different teams and get very early feedback from customers. This enabled us to iterate prototypes to deliver better outcomes for end-users while saving our client both time and resource.


The Senior Product Manager at the client shared his reflections with us afterwards:

As we wrapped up the final day by plotting our ideas on a continuum of value and effort, it was clear that the team aligned on a core set of features that collectively represented our best ideas. For me, this demonstrated the value of the exercise. 

So, what’s next?

We are continuing to work with our client's product team to evolve the platform by collecting valuable feedback from HCPs to create further engagement. If you’re interested in finding out more about design sprints with Graphite Digital, please contact us.