Knowing your service users
Research and innovation does not occur as a stand-alone activity. In order to be successful, you will need buy-in from your service users.
Service user is a term commonly used to encompass a whole host of individuals and/or groups. Perhaps the most recognised of these will be the patient, however we will discuss other examples in Step 1.9 when considering a wider group of stakeholders.
To someone working within a pathology laboratory the patient may not be immediately apparent, however it is important to consider that every sample originates from a patient. Involving patients in innovation projects, service improvement and research in the clinical area, whether that be the NHS or other international healthcare system, is now common place. NHS Organisations now have a statutory duty to involve patients in developing proposals for change and this is also often the case internationally.
There are major benefits such as, improved service quality, responsiveness to the patients’ needs and improved communications between the healthcare provider and the communities they serve. Strategic planning and policy decisions become more patient focused resulting in increased ownership of the healthcare service and the need to innovate. Patient involvement, should be an integral part of innovation, including identifying areas for innovation, designing innovation projects, analysing the findings and considering how the innovation may be implemented. Patients input can be especially valuable when communicating the need for innovation and its successes to other patients and users of your service.
Now we have identified that patients should be involved in innovation let us consider examples of how this may occur. Use the comments section to suggest areas where patient input will enhance your methodology, such as designing a questionnaire or patient information leaflet. We will come back to patient involvement in subsequent weeks.