Dec 02, 2015 03:47 Co-creation in the front end of healthcare projects

Co-creation is in use across many different industries today and it has finally started to impact the design of healthcare products, environments and services. This is an important trend since good design in healthcare projects has the potential to improve the quality of life for many people. The earlier in the process that co-creation is applied, the more impact it can have on the design and development of products, environments and services.


What are the merits of using co-creation on healthcare projects?

Healthcare projects are complex and many different stakeholders can be involved. Co-creation in healthcare projects takes a lot of time and resources but the payoff at the end can be enormous. The use of co-creation in the front end of design can improve the end results of healthcare projects in three ways. First, by involving the stakeholders as co-creators in the process, there is a far better chance that the end results will meet their needs. Second, when the stakeholders are actively involved as co-creators they will have ownership of what is designed since they will have played a role in the process.  Feelings of ownership can lead to feelings of empowerment that will have a positive impact on how the stakeholders do their jobs. Third, when people have ownership of the solution it is easier for them during the transition period, i.e., the time period during which people learn how to use the new product, environment or service.


A short case study of co-creation in the front end of healthcare design

The design of new hospital rooms typically takes into account the needs of patients, family members and nurses. But there are many other people who work in the hospital room such as doctors, imaging technologists, sitters, dieticians, cleaners, repair people, and many more. I am working on a co-creation project now with other researchers at The Ohio State University where we are investigating the needs of all the people who work in and/or stay in the hospital room.  We have invited people from 23 different stakeholder groups to participate in the process! This is an example of extreme co-creation in the front end of the design process.


We are now in a co-creation phase where we invite small groups of stakeholders to work together to create their ideal hospital room. We provide them with all the components that go into the patient room and let them decide where things should go. Everything in the room is full size. The walls are all covered with Velcro so that the stakeholders can stick components (such as outlets, shelves, light switches, TV, etc.) exactly where they want them to go. The bathroom can be moved to any place in the room since the walls, the sink and the toilet are all on wheels.  We are now in the process of analysing the results of 30 full-scale, co-creation workshops to develop guidelines for the design of hospital rooms that will meet the needs of all the people who work, heal, and/or visit in these rooms.


What are things to think about when planning to use co-creation in the front end?

When planning to use co-creation in the front end of the design process it is best to have buy-in at the top level of the organization since you will want to collaborate with stakeholders from all levels and positions in the organization.  You will need a group of dedicated co-designers who are able to stay involved in the process over time. It is best to work with people who are eager to be involved as co-designers. Coercing people to take part in a co-creation process when they are not interested in doing so or when they are skeptical about the process should be avoided.


Using co-creation in the front end of healthcare projects will be an iterative process.  It will take time and many trials to figure out how best to make it work. It is important to visualize the process so that all the co-creators can see what they have accomplished together. It is also important that the co-creation effort be communicated to all interested parties in the organization. By sharing the process you can identify additional stakeholders to bring into the co-creation workshops. Advanced communication technologies and social networking can help to keep all interested stakeholders involved in the process as co-creators.


What can we expect in the future?

We can expect to see more co-creation efforts emerging in healthcare design in the future. In fact, Philips recently announced that it has opened its first "HealthSuite Labs Co-creation Center" in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. According to the company, the centers will "allow healthcare experts and general practitioners to work together in teams, with patients as well as business experts from multiple fields, to co-create and implement integrated care solutions" (from the press release). Philips plans to open more co-creation centers around the world, including some in the US and Asia. 

Liz SandersMakeTools 代表



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