Meet the Team: Ashley Hearton

December 7, 2022
9 minute read

Ashley Hearton is Phlo’s Researcher, and this means she spends a lot of time talking to a lot of different people – from patients like you, to our internal teams working across all parts of Phlo.

We booked a slot in her diary for a chat to explore how her role helps shape patient experiences at Phlo, what a typical day looks like and how she started her career in research and user-centred design.

Tell us a bit about your educational background and your previous roles before joining Phlo.

Unlike a lot of researchers, I came from a product and service design background. Growing up I loved building things, whether that be imaginary worlds through Lego or The Sims, or buildings through Google Sketch! I decided to study Product Design at Strathclyde University where I could explore product engineering in context with real-world problems. I then studied an MA in Industrial Design at Loughborough University where I was introduced to marrying physical and UX (user experience) design with design psychology & research.  

As a student, I had worked on a project for the RSA Design Awards on using developing technology to solve real patients' problems. My project was to help the amputee community. Using a research-led approach, I identified that suffering with joint-dermatitis, amputees can become isolated and lack self-esteem - as limited mobility prevents them from socialising with their own communities, working in-office or carrying out basic tasks eg, making a cup of tea. This helped define a UX approach whilst marring modern design thinking with physical & digital solutions.

In my previous role, I worked in London as a Junior Service Designer & Researcher at a design consultancy. I built the foundations of my professional experience working in a fast-paced, research-centred environment to inform all types of service design projects.  

What attracted you to work for Phlo, and what does a typical day look like?

I was fascinated by Phlo’s mission to modernise a nation-wide service with a design-led approach, and Phlo echoed to my experience and goals as a designer to empower the community. Phlo led to me specialising in design research, shaping our product and service offerings in line with our patients and industries needs and wants.

My role underpins all aspects of the business (including patient-facing and partner platforms). So a typical day can vary depending on research projects we are running, as well as the stage our projects are at:

First, coffee, then:

  1. Discovery time to look at results from all surveys, feedback channels, data boards etc and prepare for daily meetings  
  1. Sharing feedback and new insights from all our research sources
  1. Working on wider project thinking and planning
  1. Meetings during the day on different projects
  1. Working on designing research projects eg, usability tests, surveys, in-app
  1. Catching-up with our Patient Care team and investigating trends and behaviours brought up during our call

What’s the best part (or parts) of your role?

Learning new and interesting things about our service, product channels and patients every day. It’s also great being able to collaborate with the design team daily. At Phlo, patient feedback for long and short projects is central to our research-led ethos.  

Can you tell us about Rewards for Research?  

Yes – it's our dedicated patient feedback group! You can learn more here.  

At Phlo, we know patients rely on us to provide them with their medication. This is why we want to include them as we grow - to help create a better pharmacy experience.  

Whoever you are, we would love to hear from you! To become a member all patients need to do is head to their Phlo account, find ‘Rewards for research’ on the sidebar and tap ‘Join group’.  

What have you learned from working at Phlo?

The incredible results that collaboration between data science and traditional patient research can bring. As with any challenge and research project, we look at the issue or behaviour holistically - meaning we ask our patients about our services and projects regularly and use data science to dive deeper into what we have learned. It’s like a seesaw, data can help identify an issue and patient-feedback can help clarify the real-world problem, and vice versa.  

What piece of advice would you give someone asking how to start a career in user research?

There are two approaches to this:

  • My approach was developing an understanding of the design process first, how to build and identify useful services and products then specialise in research and psychology.  
  • Another would be to come from a psychology background then specialise in philosophy and/or user experience design.  

Thinking both in a linear and non-linear way is crucial for a user researcher. Much like design engineering, you need to be able to work both creatively and logically at the same time.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like some healthy competition hosting games nights and completing strategy games like Zelda. I also enjoy photography and finding new bookstores to quench my thirst for knowledge.  

I’m currently learning to cook more plant-based meals and enjoy taking my Miniature Schnauzer, Walter (AKA the.grumpy.glasweigan on Instagram) on loads of exciting days out to Loch Lomond and the Cairngorms.  

If you’d like to join the Phlo team and help us shape the future of Pharmacy, check out our careers page.

Content last reviewed on:
December 7, 2022
Next review date:
December 7, 2023
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