In global healthcare, where evidence-based guidance is complex and ever-evolving, efficiently communicating information to practitioners is a significant challenge. Infographics can play a role in addressing this knowledge transition challenge by crystallizing long-form guidance into concise, visually appealing materials that support better patient outcomes.

Firstline was able to offer information design expertise to the World Health Organization (WHO), collaborating to create a set of 43 companion infographics to the WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book (draft released for public consultation in 2021). These infographics are designed to act as a clinical decision-making tool, helping healthcare providers across the globe efficiently reference the etiology, diagnostic considerations, and treatment guidance for infectious syndromes, encouraging adherence to evidence-based best practice.

In this feature blog post, we share insight into the information design process of developing the format, layout, and visual appearance of the WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book companion infographics.

Guiding the design process

To begin, the WHO drafted preliminary, full-length documents for each infectious disease. Firstline content managers distilled these multi-page documents to the pertinent information using their extensive familiarity with guidelines used at the point of care across the world. These summarised, text-based documents were then edited and approved by the WHO.

Next, the Firstline team identified patterns within the guidance to create standardized sections and subsections that could be applied in all cases. Text-heavy recommendations were converted into an infographic that provided both visual clarity and unambiguous guidance. At every step of the process, the project team’s focus was on helping the end user more easily locate, understand and retain the information needed at the point of care.

The project presented some design challenges along the way. The Firstline team needed to strike a balance between underwhelming and overwhelming visuals. As Chiara-lyse Lee, Senior Content Manager at Firstline points out, “The infographics needed to be visually appealing and attention-grabbing, without inundating providers. It was also essential to highlight the antimicrobial AWaRe classification and other important information within the relevant sections.”

Over the course of nearly a year and a half, Firstline supported the WHO in this immense undertaking and, through this partnership, saw the development of the first iteration of the WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book and companion infographics in November 2021 for public consultation.

Communicating clear dosing instructions

Of particular importance in the design of the infographics was the presentation of drug dosing recommendations in an easily understood and unequivocal format. For example, drug 1 OR drug 2 PLUS drug 3 can be interpreted in two different ways:

1) [drug 1 OR drug 2] PLUS [drug 3]

2) [drug 1] OR [drug 2 PLUS drug 3]

When materials are being developed for widespread use, they need to be clear, especially for use in under-resourced, overly affected areas. “Ambiguity in dosing is inconvenient in the best of cases and at worst, damaging to a patient’s health and safety,” Firstline Content Manager, Olivia Stein, says. In response to this potential for misinterpretation, Firstline developed a graphical bracket system to remove any uncertainty in antimicrobial regimen selection and dosing (see below).

WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book: Infographics

The role of visual clarity

The infographics were revised and reworked to follow a specific, blue- and grey-toned colour scheme, highlighting the colours of the AWaRe classification and key points of prescribing. This colour scheme and associated iconography were standardized, with the idea being that as providers become familiar with the design, they will naturally associate certain colours and icons with specific sections and will be able to locate their desired information quickly, easily, and perhaps the most important, accurately.

WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book: Infographics

The product of the hard work and cooperation between Firstline and the WHO is a set of clear, concise and visually appealing infographics.

The final design effectively communicates crucial information and supports the ultimate goal of the WHO AWaRe Antibiotic book: improved patient outcomes, ease of use for front-line workers, and antimicrobial stewardship across the globe.