The importance of co-design to improve clinical systems


With rare exceptions, the design and development of clinical systems is carried out by computer technicians, sometimes supported by experts in user experience. It’s time to change the method.

Despite the efforts of IT company designers to design products and services with the user in mind, the results are generally poor. The knowledge of the application domain by technicians is in fact limited and mediated by their interaction with users.

Discovering the needs and desires of the target user, learning what they appreciate and thinking about how best to respond to these needs is complex and difficult because, with problems and in complex situations, the user may not know exactly what he wants. What users say may not correspond completely to what they do in reality. There may be hidden desires, latent feelings and their professional experience.

To overcome these problems it is necessary to adopt co-design or co-creation, a practice of collaborative creativity, which is initiated by companies to allow innovation and create value with, rather than simply for their customers. Defined by Prof. Thorsten and his colleagues from the research and consulting group in London, the concept originated in the economy and soon spread to designers.

Many companies have adopted this practice. An example is NIKE BY YOU, Nike’s website that allows people to customize their shoes, for example, by choosing colors and details.

Co-creation has several advantages:

  • By involving real users in our creative process, we learn from the beginning in the process whether the idea or product will be successful with users.
  • It helps you discover the real needs and desires of users.
  • Consequently, it can reduce costs and risks for your company.
  • It can reduce the time needed for research, development and selection of ideas.
  • Consumers benefit from greater customisation and value through co-creation processes.
  • It represents a competitive advantage by transforming the knowledge acquired by users into progress and improvement of products/services.
  • Co-creation will enable individual and group creativity and potentially enable the customer knowledge development and transfer within the organisation.
  • Above all, co-creation has the advantage of bringing the researcher and the designer closer to their users.

Involving clients in the innovation process then increases their commitment to the project, generates broad support from them as involved in the process and allows for better communication and interaction with them.

Of course, in order to involve users in the design process, it is necessary to provide them with adequate tools to allow them to express. There are platforms and tools that support this process which can often be asynchronous (doctors and nurses are very busy and it is not easy to involve them during their working hours).

If we want to significantly improve the quality and user experience of clinical systems we must actively involve users in the creation of the software. Only in this way will we be able to develop a new generation of software capable of responding to the real needs of users.

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