The patient is the only person who experiences the complete course of a healthcare problem, from first symptom to any contacts with the healthcare system to examination, treatment, follow-up activities and rehabilitation. The aim of this thesis is to explore how caregivers, together with patients, can draw on the knowledge patients acquire from their experiences in healthcare service development. This represents a break with the traditional role of the patient, which has been one of a passive receiver of care, following a supplier-centered view on value creation, which has increasingly been challenged both in the healthcare management discourse and in service research. Instead it is argued that value can only be co-created with customers, or patients in the case of healthcare. This means that the patients’ value-creating processes and contexts need to be emphasized and that patients are seen as a possible resource in their own care but also in the development of services and products. Despite this change in discourse, practical methods and empirical studies concerning patient involvement are scarce. This thesis adds to the field through an empirical exploration of co-creation in the development of healthcare. Through an action research approach, researchers and healthcare personnel have collaborated to develop a model for involving patients in service development, by inviting patients to share ideas and experiences through diaries.
A workable, three-phase (preparation, execution and learning) model for patient involvement through diaries has been developed, and applied in three clinics (orthopedic, rehabilitation, gastro). A total of 53 patients from the different care processes have contributed ideas and experiences using paper and pen diaries or blogs, or by calling an answering machine. By doing so for a period of 14 days, the patients have submitted a total of 360 ideas.
Three ways are proposed for utilizing the rich data submitted by the patients in service development. First, ideas from diaries can be used as input for service development. Second, a larger sample of diaries can be used to create a report of patient experiences, in which problem areas in the care process can be identified, and combined with other statistics. Third, individual patients’ stories can be highlighted and serve as a basis for discussion in the organization to shift the focus to the patient’s experience, serving as a motivator for change within the caregiving organization.
The study shows that patients can share ideas and experiences regarding a range of topics, including clinical, organizational, social, informational, and practical issues and attitudes among healthcare staff. The contexts to which these ideas and experiences applied were caregiver, home, extended caregiver, and work, and often concerned topics and aspects of the patient’s care process that are invisible to the caregiver.
Although healthcare organizations should be aware of the limitations to participation an illness may imply among some patients, patient co-creation in service development provides several important benefits. Acquiring knowledge regarding the parts of the patient’s care process that are invisible to the caregiver is key to improving care and supporting patients’ work of healing and managing life. Patients’ insights and creativity are an untapped resource for development of many aspects of the healthcare process.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 54 p.
2012-06-12, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)