15 top tips for co-design in digital health

15 top tips for co-design in digital health

The mHabitat team are currently running a Digital Development Lab on behalf of NHS England for a small group of innovators who have developed promising digital innovations for young people’s mental health. We are helping them travel the journey from development through to adoption within the NHS. We recently brought our lovely band of innovators together for a couple of days of shared learning on a number of hot topics. I’m going to be writing a short post on each topic and first up is the fundamental importance of co-design in digital health. Helping us think about this topic was Andy Mayer of Yoomee fame, Matt Edgar of many things including Global Service Jam, and our regular collaborator Mark Brown from Social Spider. Whilst they shared their wisdom I furiously scribbled down a collection of top tips. Follow these simple rules and you won’t go far wrong: Should we even do it? – rather than start with ‘can it be built?’ begin the conversation with ‘should it be built?’ The answer to the first is usually ‘yes’ and the answer to the latter is often ‘no’ What don’t we know? – be honest with yourselves about what you do and don’t know – test your hypotheses and ask questions as you go Find your fans – start with your prospective users from the get-go and create a fan base – a community of people who are really up for collaborating with you It’s all about context – understand what tasks your prospective users are trying to accomplish in their context (not just who they are) so your innovation is...
The gap between hyperbole and reality in digital health

The gap between hyperbole and reality in digital health

Looking back at what the mHabitat team have been up to in 2016, I am convinced more than ever that the gap between the hyperbole of digital health and reality in practice remains a yawning chasm. There have been moments in the year when I’ve been quite taken aback by the distance we have yet to travel in utilising even the most basic and ubiquitous of technologies to improve healthcare. Here are three  stories that have stuck in my mind from our co-design work during 2016 to give a sense of what I mean. They aren’t heroic stories of great leadership and transformative change, but rather everyday stories of things not working quite right, and that’s sort of the point. Doing the simple things well (or not) It was during a co-design workshop with a health service that young people described how they value the text messaging reminder service. A good example whereby a ubiquitous technology is used to keep in touch and a solid foundation to build on. However participants were dismayed when a member of staff brought down the box with the office non-smartphone that is brought out daily to send each message individually with each number punched in for every single message that is sent. The staff explained how, to save time, they type the message in one of their (personal) smartphones and then text it to the device and then forward it onto their recipients. They went on to demonstrate how the phone will only hold 50 messages so they have to wipe them each time they want to send out a new set of...
Layers of delight (and the joy of online social networks with my teens)

Layers of delight (and the joy of online social networks with my teens)

Ok, so I know there are plenty of aspects of online social networks that are problematic. Particularly for teens. But sometimes I reflect on ways in which online social networks, and our smartphones, afford layers of connection between myself and my three children (12, 14 and 17) which give me unmitigated joy and delight. Things are expressed that would never be said face to face. Experiences can be shared even when we are far apart. We can collaborate in novel and pleasurable ways. Here are just ten examples… Sharing special moments from afar – the time when my daughter allowed me to share her first experience of Glastonbury festival by sending me WhatsApp video clips of the moment when she met her favourite music artist Helping each other out – all the times when my daughter asks for my advice on her clothing purchases via Facetime from shop dressing rooms Bad humour– the atrocious comedy memes and GIFs via WhatsApp from my son Saying what can’t be said in person – my daughter congratulating me on passing my PhD viva via text message when she could only be tetchy to my face Liking my stuff – when my son hearts my Instagram posts and his friends (bizarrely) start following my account Keeping a close but surreptitious eye – my daughter blocking me on Facebook only to allow her BFF to friend me so that she can spy on my posts via her account Sharing the love – my daughter sending me heart emojis and telling me she loves me via WhatsApp when she will never say it to my...

What has frugal innovation got to offer the NHS, social care and wider public sector? This is a question we will be debating at our People Drive Digital #PDDigital16 festival on the evening of 28 November at the Open Data Institute in Leeds. One of our debaters is Jaideep Prabhu who is professor of Indian Business and Enterprise at the Cambridge Judge Business School within the University of Cambridge. Jaideep has written extensively on the topic of frugal innovation both in emerging markets and in the Western world. You can watch him share his thoughts about what the West can learn from frugal innovation here: So what is frugal innovation and how is it relevant to people driving digital innovation in health and care? Nesta define frugal innovation as follows: Frugal innovation responds to limitations in resources, whether financial, material or institutional, and using a range of methods, turns these constraints into an advantage. You can read a Nesta report on frugal innovation here. The report highlights many examples of frugal innovation and I particularly liked the story of the Kerala neighbourhood network in palliative care. In contrast to a doctor led hierarchical model of care, volunteers from the local community are trained to identify problems of people who chronically ill in their area and to intervene. 70 percent of the Kerala population have access to palliative care in contrast to only 1 percent at a national level. The neighbourhood network consists of more than 4,000 volunteers, with 36 doctors and 60 nurses providing expert support and advice to enable care for 5000 patients at any one time. Frugal...
China cups and therapy dogs with a dash of teal

China cups and therapy dogs with a dash of teal

What do china cups, therapy dogs and self-managing teams have in common? Well, quite a bit it turns out… It all began at an Improvement Academy Fellows event some months back where consultant physician Dr Rod Kersh and I had a serendipitous conversation about self-managing teams in healthcare based on a model known as Teal. In his presentation humanity above bureaucracy you can watch Jos de Blok describe how in 2007 he set up a new model of nursing in the Netherlands led by practitioners and co-produced with patients: Back in Doncaster, Rod and his team run a ward for older people with acute medical needs and dementia type illnesses. Their practice is informed by the principles of Teal and grounded in compassion and empathy.  On his ward it’s the small thing that count – such as the this is me information sheets that are part of the medical record, and the photos of staff on the wall accompanied by a this is what people like about me mini-biography. But sometimes it’s the apparently small stuff that can be the toughest to resolve. Rod has been engaged in a valiant battle to replace standard hospital issue plastic cups with china tea cups on his ward. You can read his blog about it here in which he describes the importance of the everyday in engendering humanity: “Person-centred care, where we remember that the patient is a person and, that person is the reason for the existence of the hospital, and our work, where we need to sometimes check ourselves when we slip into modes of process and performance; here the cups...
The next Uber for healthcare

The next Uber for healthcare

‘This app is basically the next Uber for healthcare’ A web search for the phrase uber for healthcare yields around 11,100,000 hits along with a plethora of suggested related searches. Uber has become shorthand for customer convenience and the disruption of established markets. It seems many people are looking for the lucrative uber for healthcare model and it’s a phrase with currency at many digital health events and in numerous articles. This recent Kevin.MD blog post argues that an uber for healthcare will be ‘super convenient, quick and easy, and inexpensive’. A recent commissioned article in the weighty British Medical Journal, entitled Uber for Healthcare asks:   Is it time to reinvent the home visit? … app happy entrepreneurs backed by venture capitalists believe that they can turn back the clock (Hawkes, N. 12 February, 2016).   The idea of a quick and convenient healthcare system that we can access with a swipe of our app while we go about our busy lives is seductive. But should we be questioning more deeply whether we want app happy entrepreneurs backed by venture capitalists disrupting the NHS with uber-style models of healthcare? Relationships or transactions An uberised model of healthcare prioritises transactions over relationships – it elevates convenience, efficiency and accessibility. But arguably healthcare is much more complex than an A to B taxi journey for all but the most simple of ailments. What happens to an uberised model when referrals along a multi-provider care pathway are required or ongoing support to help someone manage multiple long term health conditions? An uber style healthcare model may benefit the generally fit and...