Designing healthcare in collaboration

Healthcare systems of today face many challenges. At the core of these stands the care systems’ capability to improve or even transform services to fulfill the growing needs of the citizens. Strong professionals who influence the development of healthcare services have dominated healthcare organizations for many years. However, an increasing number of reports show that inviting patients to participate in the co-creation and improvement of services seems to be a necessary and fruitful way forward. In this respect, healthcare action research has emerged as one of the most powerful approaches, attracting an increasing focus in healthcare transformational efforts.

In this paper, we present learning and challenges from two cases that aimed to improve patient care in a hospital setting. Patients and parents were invited together with healthcare professionals in the co-creation of improved services in pediatric care. One project aimed to improve neonatal care and the other project aimed to improve care for children with diabetes. Improvements were based on experiences from both parents and healthcare professionals.

Patient involvement in quality improvements can challenge the traditional roles of healthcare professionals and patients. The role as co-designer embraces new perspectives for healthcare professionals that force them to step out of their comfort zone. Accordingly, healthcare professionals are able to view patients as equal partners in improvement work. Reflecting dialogues during the projects offered eye-opening stories for patients and healthcare professionals that enabled them to construct a common picture of care.

The paper is commonly written by the improvement facilitator and one of the parents, and based on experiences from all participants involved in the projects. In the paper we give an in-depth description of the AR processes, pointing to the success of combining experienced based co-design (EBCD) with an action research approach. The study clearly shows that AR and EBCD are mutually beneficial approaches and that they together might contribute to successful service improvements in other contexts as well.

Blogpost written by Susanne Gustavsson

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 12 April, 2017.

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