Putting people at the heart of service design

Putting people at the heart of service design
posted 30 November 2018

The third in a series of features from our PPL Impact Report, available for download below.

The NHS is the fifth largest employer in the world and employs almost 2% of the UK population.  It is both a key employer and a provider of a vital service. These two elements explain, to a large extent its centrality to our social fabric and national identity.  As a society, individually and collectively, we all have stories which explain the NHS’ place in our hearts, whether as a force for bringing us together as a nation during times of turmoil or deeply personal stories of providing care and comfort when we or our loved ones have been at our most vulnerable.

It is through these stories that the public know that the NHS is a force for good and a guardian of our most precious values.  As with all organisations, however, it suffers from a number of perverse incentives. These can encourage it to ’balance its books’ rather than to achieve its mission of delivering excellent healthcare. 

Ensuring patient centricity in all decision-making by actively engaging and listening to patients and supporting them in co-designing their care, is key to ensuring that we balance sometimes diametrically opposed priorities.  Before joining PPL, I worked across the NHS as a management consultant for over 15 years.  Worryingly, the first time I engaged face to face with actual service users in a review of services (delivered for their benefit) was at PPL. 

Whilst management consultancy can be a force for good, consulting business models typically focus on working for and answering to specific clients; at times this is not 100% aligned with the needs of patients and wider stakeholders. 

Our focus is in doing what is ‘right’ for the client, which extends beyond financial and intra-organisational concerns, to looking at the bigger picture. What do service users want? How can we best serve them? What does this organisation exist to deliver and how can we make it better at doing that?  How can we support our client’s partners in achieving shared goals? Our passion and commitment to delivering this in all our engagements, supports us in building long-standing relationships with individuals and organisations that feel the same. 

Despite what PPL has achieved over the past decade, we know that there is more to be done. Over the next decade we remain committed to putting people at the heart of service design, so that ‘no decision about them, is made without them’. 

Download the full Report here.