Co-Designing with Customers:
Service Design leads to deep insights for Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Engaging multiple ministries, organizations and customers to co-design.

We have been working with the Ontario Public Service for many years now, starting with helping to build awareness amongst various departments and levels about the value of thinking through services holistically, bringing front line staff and customers into the design process and tapping into the collective intelligence and creativity of the entire organization.

Fast forward a few years, and the Digital Transformation Branch of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has a Service Design Team! When the team reached out for support to execute a customer research initiative for the next iteration of the online Immunization Record system, we knew it was a great opportunity to continue fostering new ways of working across the government while getting great insight from the people who use the immunization system.

The ServiceOntario team had done some great interviews with both customers and Public Health Units in various municipalities from around the province in learning what was working about the current system and what challenges they faced. From these interviews, we worked with the team to develop the key objectives and hypotheses that we wanted to test in an intensive workshop format with additional customers.

Immersive Working Sessions Lead to Deep Insight

We engaged a recruiting firm to develop the criteria and were able to invite members of the public who had gone through an experience of submitting immunization records, or retrieving records for some reason (travel, job, school) or who had received a suspension warning letter from a Public Health Unit and had to ensure that their child’s immunization was up to date. Engaging a firm of this kind is a great way to bring customers, who have specific life circumstances that you want to learn more about, into the process. Highly recommended!

With a cross functional team gathered for a 2-day Design Jam, we had people from MOHLTC, the development team, ServiceOntario, customers, people from the Public Health Units from around Southern Ontario, Digital Government Team…a truly cross-functional, cross-ministerial team. With these cross-functional teams each working with at least one customer for the duration of the day, the team used Structured Interviews, Journey Maps, Empathy Maps, and other frameworks to explore customer feelings around different ways of authenticating themselves into government services.

In mapping out the entire customer journey, before and after using the online system, key insights were surfaced that impacted the design and user experience of the system itself. By understanding stakeholder pain points along various scenarios, more universal design criteria were developed from a customer point of view, rather than from the various government departments, which could have resulted in a less than ideal solution. 

It is very rewarding to see the seeds that we (as well as many other awesome, human centred design firms) have sprinkled, sprouting in very real ways, as internal teams are growing their capabilities and doing amazing, engaging work with the people of Ontario.