Health Care

Co-creating future care solutions:
Shifting mindsets for a 20-year change

Hamilton Health Sciences, the only hospital system in Ontario providing specialty care to people throughout the entire life cycle, from pre-birth to old age, asked us to work with them to engage key stakeholders in envisioning and prototyping a bold new future.

In 2015, Hamilton Health Sciences embarked on a strategic visioning process for the coming 20 years. We were engaged in those early stages to help change the conversation, and use a human-centred design process to build an understanding of what patients and families value in the healthcare system. HHS used the outputs of our first engagement with them to keep the Patient Centred Working Groups focused squarely on the needs of the community while making choices for strategic clinical recommendations. Phase 2 of that work, which is outlined here, is the continuation of that story.  This project story highlights two inflection points in our work with HHS: a Community Partners Summit, and a Leadership Forum.

Key activities for participants were co-creative exercises called “Make a World”. Participants in small groups were first given a patient persona each, on which to focus their efforts. They then received a kit of custom-designed making materials and this challenge: design a healthcare system for the future that will create better health outcomes for your patient.

Participants applied their professional and community expertise to this challenge, producing remarkable and thoughtful outputs: 3D representations of community systems to serve people with complex social and healthcare needs. In the end, 9 personas had several versions of a future healthcare system that could better their healthcare experiences and outputs. All of the outputs focused on envisioning new ways of doing things, new partnerships, and reimagining old models of care. Because we were ‘playing’ with making materials, participants were bold with their recommendations, assuming that the needed partnerships, budgets, and infrastructure could be built to accommodate their prototype. The combination of deep expertise and a highly creative exercise produced some impressive prototypes for a host of challenging personas with complex needs.

Upon reflection, both in our closing ‘fishbowl’ conversations, and after each session, we realized that a critical output was the shift in mindsets that occurred because of the Make a World activity. Participants noted the need to be brought closer to the creation of future service delivery models (how might we ensure that community partners are leveraged and honoured in this process?); and how they were excited to start imagining a way that the vision might take place (how might we build a system that is bold in design, and delivers the highest level of clinical care?). Participants also noted that being given a real voice in the conversation was very powerful. Their expertise was valued in the experience, and their optimism for what could be created together was high. Momentum has been created for the engagement of a service design approach to planning and implementation.

This program continues to set a new standard for internal and community HHS gatherings, giving participants the expectation of highly active and co-creative participation on critical issues. HHS’ 20-year vision is a bold declaration of intent which sets them up address future challenge innovatively — incorporating technical, delivery model, and relational innovations to reinvent the healthcare experience for the people of Hamilton.