Patient involvement within the health care sector is necessary to create solutions that reduce costs without reducing the quality. The Patient Journey Project brought together a wide range of stakeholders, each with an influence on different parts of the patient journey, and immersed them in the end-to-end experience of being a patient.
The Experio Lab is a new national center for patient-oriented service innovation in Sweden. The initiative was undertaken to contribute to the healthcare development and improve patient-care experiences in an often inefficient and disjointed system. This new health service design lab has functioned as an eye-opener for important stakeholders. It is supported by Sweden’s Innovation Agency and acts as a lighthouse to help other regions in Sweden to leverage best practices for improving the patient’s experience and developing knowledge.
This was the most exciting and hands-on example of patient involvement that I have seen.
The Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Göran Hägglund, after experiencing a real-life patient journey.
Healthcare providers face significant challenges in framing and understanding the total ecosystem from the diverse perspectives of key participants. The Patient Journey Project involved people from different areas that directly and indirectly influence the patient journey in separate areas. The structure and getting the crucial participants together in one joint-group every week was a great challenge.
By running open space sessions, coaching the team and creating real life patient cases, the designers implemented three patients journeys based on real patient records. Getting the stakeholders to play different roles out in the actual healthcare environment, with one team member acting as the patient, provided a shared real-life experience to work from. Nurses and physicians, department heads and senior officials acted out real patient journeys, each taking different patient and staff perspectives, and documenting the discoveries and insights that emerged along the way.
The project highlights how our participatory format builds engagement that leads to powerful opportunities for improvement, both on personal and organizational levels. Our approach encourages the interplay of both learning experiences (knowledge) and human experiences (perception). As the design team managed to get key stakeholders to experience the journey first-hand, they got unparalleled access to both the learning and human experience. The patient journeys created a process of critical reflection as a means to confront problematic situations. The participants not only moved through the logistical process of receiving care, but they also moved through the emotions involved with receiving care. They understood that the experience of the patient is a unique journey, but also that the required changes in the system would need to be approached as a journey.
These journeys have really opened my eyes. After 40 years of working as a nurse, I have realized for the first time how little I have understood what patients see, need and feel. I’m ashamed it took me this long, but now I can’t stop thinking about all the things we can improve.
Patient-driven care does not only create healthier and happier patients and a better working environment for health care professionals, it has the power to create real changes with specific targets for long-term initiatives that drive change on a systemic level. The specific insights and opportunities identified during the Patient Journey Project have already had a measurable positive impact in Swedish healthcare, leading to the implementation of several initiatives that span across departments and public policies.