Releasing the power of users…

Image: @doomu on Freepik
Image: @pch.vector on Freepik
  • Lisa Crites, an American broadcast journalist was 42 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following a mastectomy she was advised not to shower because of the risk of bacterial infection to her surgical drains from tap water. Her frustration at not being able to shower led her to experiment with various home-made solutions, originally based on plastic rubbish bags. After five different prototypes she finally came up with the design for the Shower Shirt, a water-resistant garment which allows patients suffering from a variety of conditions to take a shower safely. Now FDA approved it has improved the quality of life for thousands of patients around the world.
  • Pau Bach was an industrial design student who became tetraplegic after an accident. Confined to a wheelchair he realised the market did not offer mobility solutions which matched his lifestyle; his frustration led him to develop a range of add-on hand bikes which gave him back some measure of independence. As he explained , ‘….I set out to make my own inventions. I wanted something that would solve my basic problem: autonomy and dependence…’. Once again the solution he found for his problem has ended up benefitting many others.
  • Sometimes such user innovation takes an extreme trajectory; in the case of Tal Golesworthy his diagnosis with Marfan’s syndrome (a heart problem which led to his having an aortic aneurism) held out little hope beyond high-risk open-heart surgery. Instead he designed Exovasc, an external support for the aortic roof and persuaded a surgeon to implant the device. As a result he is still alive nearly twenty years later and so are hundreds of other patients who benefitted from his idea.
  • the ‘informed patient’, equipped to use technology based on improved understanding — for example accessing and managing their own health records and making informed decisions about courses of action, becoming partners with healthcare professionals
  • the ‘involved patient’, playing an active role within a wider healthcare delivery system and enabled to do so by technology. Here the approaches widely used in the commercial sector are finding increasing application with users actively engaged at the ‘front-end of innovation’, evaluating prototypes, providing valuable feedback to help pivot designs and acting as a ‘crowd-sourced’ laboratory for development.
  • the ‘innovating patient’, providing ideas of their own based on their deep understanding of their healthcare issue. At the limit we find here the kind of patient innovators described above, prototyping and trialing their ideas out on themselves or their nearest and dearest.
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  • Co-creation: bring together a diversity of views, constraints and knowledge sharing to enable exploration of novel approaches
  • Exploration: engage all stakeholders, especially user communities, at the earlier stage of the co-creation process
  • Experimentation: prototype innovations with users while collecting data which will be analysed in their context during the evaluation activity.
  • Evaluation: assess new ideas and innovative concepts as well as related technological artefacts in real life situations

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Innovation teacher/coach/researcher and these days trying to write songs, sketches and other ways to tell stories

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john bessant

john bessant

Innovation teacher/coach/researcher and these days trying to write songs, sketches and other ways to tell stories