Working in partnership to deliver service design in health

A 60 minute Case Study by:

Matthew Harrington

Department of Health

Alastair Lee

Pilot Works

About this Case Study

User needs:

As a health professional...
I want to learn practical tips/ideas for working with partners on service design challenges
So that I feel more confident/I can get better outcomes.

As a service design specialist/SME...
I want to learn practical tips/ideas/experiences about working with health organisations
So that I feel more confident in bidding, securing and delivering work.

The problem

Service and delivery managers are busy people and often lack the expertise to run a user centred process to create better designed services. They need help. Outsourcing discovery and design to an agency is convenient, but if managers are not deeply involved in the process they won't internalise the insights. This increases the risk of forgetting the user's perspective and making poor decisions later on.

Outsourcing also means the supplier spending precious time getting up to speed on the domain and the specifics of your organisation's working practices - or worse, providing recommendations that are not workable. It also fails to build the knowledge and skills of the internal teams and stakeholders when it comes to research and design, which are core to successful service design.

The solution

What's needed is a collaborative approach. A partnership between service design experts and domain experts, working as one team, pooling their knowledge. But can that work in practice? What if you can't co-locate? What if you have limited budget?

This case study that shows it can be done. We'll talk about our approach, with examples, and show how:

  • insights were gathered that changed the course of the service
  • the team worked effectively across multiple locations
  • newcomers to the UCD and agile process learnt skills and techniques that have changed the way they work

About the Speakers

Matthew Harrington

Matthew is a lead product manager at the Department of Health. He has worked as a product manager on the NHS.UK alpha and Register with a GP services at NHS Digital. He has supported teams through discovery, alpha and beta phases, introducing new ways of thinking about services. Before joining the Department of Health, Matthew worked as a product manager and business analyst on the Performance Platform at the Government Digital Service, focusing on how government services publish transactional service information.


Alastair Lee

Alastair Lee is co-founder of Pilot Works, a digital product and service design consultancy based in Bristol. He has a background in product management and user experience and has led digital teams at the BBC, Time Out and Bristol City Council. He's on a quest to help organisations build products and services that create genuine value - for them, their users and society as a whole.