Service Design for Patient Support Services
Service Design | Irish Heart Foundation
Irish Heart Foundation provides vital support to patients and carers all over Ireland who have been affected by stroke, heart failure, and heart disease. The services expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, transitioning to remote delivery, and are now reaching more and more people.
In 2022, Context Studio worked with Irish Heart Foundation to help build a better understanding of how these services have dealt with this rapid growth, and to examine the needs of patients, volunteers and staff. This approach will inform digital transformation and the further scaling of these vital services.
“The team from Context Studio were a pleasure to work with- highly collaborative, innovative, and excellent communicators. The whole team benefited immensely from this process.
Any service planning to deliver innovation and excellence really can’t afford not to do this piece of work.”
– Helen Gaynor, Head of Community Support Services @ Irish Heart Foundation
In order to get an holistic understanding of the services offered we interviewed 23 service stakeholders, including eight members/carers, seven staff, two nurses, three volunteers and three clinical practitioners who refer people into the services. These people brought experience from across both heart and stroke services.
We learned about the challenges of remote delivery, as the services strive to provide for one-to-one connections with members. We got feedback on the fantastic impact these services have had for members, and identified plenty of opportunity for innovation and optimisation in order to help that impact scale further.
These insights contributed six “design challenges”, which we defined before sharing with the Irish Heart Foundation team, their volunteers, and members of the services.
We also created a detailed system map of one of the more complex services, to capture how a patient interacts with that service and vitally the systems and actions are taken by staff and volunteers. This was accompanied by several journey maps covering other services – and capturing the patient journey from before they enter the service right through to the ending of their participation in the service.
These assets, along with the design challenges mentioned above, meant we were ready to start working to envisage the future of the services with the team, volunteers, and members.
Over two days of intense collaboration, staff and volunteers generated hundreds of ideas for the future of Irish Heart Foundation Patient Services. These in-person co-creation workshops, kicked off with a presentation of everything we learned in our Discovery phase before the groups began brainstorming against each of the design challenges set. This was supported by our facilitators, using bespoke design-thinking methods to make the most of all the experience in the room.
Working with people from other functions and backgrounds, as well as little healthy competition between groups, meant large numbers of ideas were put forward. Just halfway through each day, the walls and windows of the boardroom were covered with sketches – we blocked out the sun with ideas!
Driving Digital Transformation
Our team has since developed 12 Service Innovation concepts which were based upon those created in the workshops in response to the insights shared from Discovery. They cover staff experience, resourcing, member experience, innovative ways of working, and the long-term future of these vital services.
During this project our focus was largely on the ways in which design can uncover possibilities. Digital transformation brings with it huge potential, and our service design process helps identify that potential. It’ll be exciting to see what’s next for Irish Heart Foundation, for their scaled patient services, and for the huge impact these will have on the lives of their members.
“Working with Context Studio and applying service design methodology has been a fascinating and valuable experience for the Irish Heart Foundation. This type of review and inquiry is essential before scaling up a service that wants the people at the centre of it to have the best possible experience.
The team brought service design principles to life in an engaging and real way for all the staff involved and contributed to team building as an extra benefit. I would be very happy to recommend Context Studio’s practice.”
– Adrienne Egan, Information Technology Manager @ Irish Heart Foundation