By Lavrans Lovlie. When the hospital region of Vestfold and Telemark in Norway set out to create a new strategy for re-habilitation services, they faced a daunting organizational challenge: How to capture and understand user needs, and form a coherent view of opportunities, for a handful of hospital and local councils spread over a large geographical area and 400,000 citizens. In other words, how to innovate across multiple user cultures?
The service design agency Livework supported the process by running a workshop with 100 stakeholders representing patients, hospital and council managers, social services, doctors and other specialists. The result was a blueprint mapping the key needs and opportunities for improvement through the entire patient journey. This helped the hospital region build a unified view of stakeholder needs and create a more patient-oriented strategy.
Engage stakeholders to form a common view
It is a notoriously difficult task to design healthcare services that involve both the specialist expertise provided in a hospital and the day-to-day services delivered in local communities. They involve a range of organizations and professionals with hugely varying responsibilities, and patients with unique individual challenges – both medical and personal. Running a workshop with all these stakeholders in the same room proved to be a highly efficient way to break through organizational barriers and establish a shared view of priorities on the journey to a new service.
Prime participants with user insights
The fist step of the workshop was to provide a grounding and fuel for thought for participants.In preparation, the workshop team had interviewed a range of patients to create a platform for understanding the experience of users in real terms. Workshop participants were presented with concrete user stories and quotes, which helped them to see services from the outside-in rather than from the perspective of their daily roles and organizations.
Map needs across the user journey
The Livework team had prepared a map of the patient journey that covered an entire wall of the workshop space. Then workshop participants set out in groups to detail user needs in the different stages of the journey, from the start – when the need for rehabilitation first occurred, until patients were back in an active and able lifestyle.
The results were shared with the entire group of participants, and key user hotspots quickly emerged. Patients said they needed better information about available services and how they were organized, improved integration of medical records across services, and a single point of contact.
In order to move from insight to action, the next workshop stage engaged participants in describing opportunities for improvement. Participants worked together together in multidisciplinary groups and built on user needs to describe design improvements into every step of the patient journey.
Build a service blueprint
During the workshop, the 100 participants all engaged in building a blueprint for the new service strategy across the wall of the workshop space. Throughout the course of the day the patient journey established a common language for the participants to describe needs and opportunities. In order to bring ideas closer to actions, the opportunities were mapped across the organizations to show how they need to work together to provide a coherent service. When the participants left the room there was a shared sense of achievement made by working together to build a visual and systematic view of the opportunity space for the new strategy. The completed service blueprint covering the workshop space gave them concrete evidence of their achievement.
A shared view drives action in complex situations
The Stakeholder workshop with the hospital region formed a key milestone in the strategy process by establishing a shared view of core facts, a common set of priorities and clear directions ahead to take. This enabled the hospital region to move on and proceed with a shared commitment across a complex group of stakeholders. Several of the initiatives described in the workshop have later since been implemented, including a single- contact center serving this patient group.
The workshop activities crossed cultures in effect, and created a more cohesive understanding between care providers and patients. In that sense the workshop helped disparate cultures innovate new solutions that benefit all stakeholders – a model process for helping to build, even temporarily, cultures of innovation.