Designing for People not Patients

We were late and couldn’t find anywhere to park so my daughter went ahead to get my appointment and I fell, right outside Accident & Emergency. An ambulance driver and a man walking by came and lifted me up. They were fantastic. It shook me up… I grazed my elbow and my hip but I didn’t break anything… You see I’m frightened of being late.

An older person told us this story about her visit to an outpatients department. If we had asked her to complete a questionnaire and rate the outpatients service on a scale of 1 to 5 would we have got such rich information? We could have identified that parking was a problem but we would not have known what it really felt like to use the service, and we couldn’t have gone on to attend to wider issues for older people such as the anxiety that commonly pervades their
hospital encounters.

We ran a project to improve outpatient services for older people at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and stories such as this showed us that the service affected people far beyond the confines of the hospital. From the moment someone receives an appointment letter or phone call to the moment they return home, elements of the outpatient service affect their lives.

Our approach recognises good health service design begins with understanding people’s lived experiences. This means understanding people not just as service-users but human beings with feelings and wider goals (such as maintaining independence and dignity). Designing for people not patients. In BSBD, we will help you use people’s lived experiences of healthcare to drive service improvement and innovation.

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