Stories of User Appropriation

Lead Research Organisation: Brunel University
Department Name: Design

Abstract

Brunel University and Horizon Digital Economy Research is collaborating with iHealth Partnership, The Alloy and IDC (Industrial Design Consultancy) SMEs on 'Stories of User Appropriation', which aims to transfer knowledge from the creative economy about creative innovation processes to the wider economy, by combining design-drama techniques with digitally-enabled open innovation platforms to engage users in the design process. Through this, the project will stimulate exchange between research from user-centred design, drama and film, as well as from the digital economy, and SMEs. This project will focus on the healthcare domain as a particularly appropriate area for innovation in KE practices.

User research has long been accepted as an important part of product design, for which there is a whole host of techniques to engage users in the design process. If implemented correctly it can reduce time to market, increase market acceptance and reduce post release support/revision. However, engaging customers in the design process is often problematic for SMEs, as any traditional user centered design process can be expensive and time consuming to implement. User-centred techniques currently adopted in the healthcare sector are often inappropriate and can fail to collect the type of data that is needed to inform the design of new products. Further issues exist when engaging users in socially dynamic spaces such as households and communities, where it is difficult to allow for the range of complex contextual issues.

There is a widespread belief that the 'creative economy', as a focal point for creativity, has a particularly important role to play in innovation throughout the economy. This project is about knowledge exchange between the creative economy and healthcare product manufacturers. This will be achieved through the co-development of digital platforms that make user-centred design techniques accessible, and thereby providing a case study on B2B linkages between creative businesses and healthcare firms.

Healthcare manufacturers face many barriers when considering how, where and why their products will be used, and these barriers have been shown to have a greater effect on the SMEs that are responsible for a large proportion of medical device development in the UK. A number of specific issues related to this have been identified:

1. An interview study of UK medical device manufacturers found that many are reluctant to engage formally with users as they believe that the effort required to overcome the significant practical and ethical difficulties of accessing users is not merited by the quality of the data that they collect from this engagement. This however may be related to a second finding of this study: that the methods used by these manufacturers (namely informal discussion-based methods) were inappropriate and unlikely to collect the type of data that is needed to inform design.

2. A recent case study of user research and involvement during the development of a new medical imaging device identified a number of individual, organisational and system barriers that functioned to prevent the results of the user research being fully integrated into development. One significant finding was that the way that the (detailed and qualitative) user data was fed back to manufacturers was not effective in conveying the range, depth and importance of the information.

These two key developmental problems will underpin the development of our digital platforms, framed by a specific case study: the range and variety of the challenges that face people living with dementia, and the opportunities for product and technology intervention to support independent living at home.

Planned Impact

We envisage impact in the creative economy and broader economy and society:

1. Increased numbers of opportunities for SME creative consultancies to work on NPD in the healthcare field through the open innovation platforms
2. New opportunities for SME manufacturers and suppliers to develop products and services
3. Enhanced and sustainable product and service propositions, with associated economic and user benefits, created as a result of improved user-centred design approaches
4. Uplift in employment and revenues amongst SMEs as a result of the new opportunities created
5. Application of the open innovation platforms in other scenarios, markets and geographies further enhancing opportunities for SMEs in the creative economy and beyond

Project partner IDC is representative of the UK innovation and design consultancy sector. These businesses have a considerable catalytic effect on the economies of their client companies. 'Design alert businesses increase their market share by 6.3% through using design' and 'every £100 a design alert business spends on design increases turnover by £225' (Design Council, 2009). The UK design sector is widely seen as an important national asset within the Creative Industries, but one facing considerable macroeconomic challenges.

Dissemination of the project outcomes is integral to achieving impact. Close links are maintained between Brunel and the main professional bodies for the design industry, the BDI, DBA and Design Council, each providing various dissemination channels to design businesses and their clients. The project also links directly to the interests of the Creative Industries and Medical Devices KTNs. There may be further opportunities for KE using our tools through Brunel's European Regional Development Fund project 'Co-Innovate'. Connections with associations such as regional Medlinks and Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI)workshops (studies) will also be used. There will also be a number of stakehoer meetings and events to pull together and seek the perspectives of the wider healthcare SME community to provide feedback on the design of the digital platforms and conferences will be attended to disseminate the project outcomes and lessons learned to other academic colleagues.

The focus of the case study deals with and creates positive impact addressing dementia within the broader challenge of the ageing population. For example to keep pace with inflation UK spending on social care for the elderly will need to triple from current levels (All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Care for Older People, 2011, Living Well at Home Inquiry).

We will directly support The National Dementia Strategy Impact Assessment (Living well with dementia: A National Dementia Strategy, Department of Health, 3rd February 2009) which looks to develop hospital-at-home programmes to reduce the length of hospital stay by stimulating SME design and innovation consultancies to develop products and services that provide home and community situated health and social care. Hospital-at-home rehabilitation could reduce the average length of hospital stay by approximately 7 days per patient, at an average cost of £3,780 per care episode, saving the NHS £38m per year (Department of Health [2009] Impact assessment of the National Dementia Strategy, v 16).

With the number of people with dementia in England expected to double within 30 years, estimated costs of dementia care costs will rise from £15.9 billion in 2009 to £34.8 billion by 2026. Hence, our approach to KE will play a pivotal role in offsetting the current burden placed on Primary Care Trusts which will lead to: reduced need for hospital admission (for people with mild to moderate dementia); reduced length of stay as a hospital inpatient (earlier discharge of people with acute dementia); reduced need for residential care (move from long-term residential care to informal care)

Publications

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Description Responsive Scripting System
This system is the first implementation of a tool for design that utilises narratives to represent interaction with a person with dementia. The tool presents to the designer a narrative, based on information from the probe tool and utilising input from movement and other sensors, and responds in a manner similar to a person with dementia. The tool demonstrates exciting possibilities for design, without the ethical or logistical difficulties of conducting design research with real patients. The system will allow designers to understand the challengers of caring for a patient as part of an empathic design process. Moreover, this system could also be used to support training of caregivers.

Impact on academic practices in the field of design-drama:
We wrote a hypothetical design-drama co-design process.
At the start of this project, the application of drama-based practice to design was minimal. This is a narrow field where the techniques that have been utilised in the past are very basic e.g. mainly games to support creativity. For this project drama was placed centrally from the beginning and it became clear that the freedom and advantages provided by using live actors when working with carers was significant. The space created allowed the carers to express their concerns and experiences in a safe environment and this was crucial in later developing the scenarios for the platform. This indicates a broadening of range of applications for applied dram techniques i.e. role-play and an adaptation of Boal's Forum Theatre.

Within the domain of Human Computer Interaction creative practices such as design drama are used to explore the social and cultural issues associated with technology interactions. This project however took a more pragmatic approach, exploring ways to exploit drama methods as a productive design tool.

From a user-centred design perspective, working with drama specialists has provided new methods of obtaining insight into user behaviour. Drama-based approaches can add richness to user-centred research, which is lacking from typical human factors methodology.

Our design SMEs commented that the films on our co-design platform would be useful at the start of a design process in order to identify issues to investigate, and to identify product opportunities.

With our SME partners, we produced a wire-frame design for a co-design web platform.
Exploitation Route Either SMEs, or a health charity could use our findings to develop a co-design platform.
Sectors Creative Economy,Healthcare

 
Description With reference to the anticipated Knowledge Exchange impacts identified in the project proposal, the results of the work inform the following commentary: 1 Increased numbers of opportunities for SME creative consultancies to work on NPD in the healthcare field through the open innovation platforms - involvement of IDC and The Alloy and others confirms that, whilst there are challenges associated with the development and adoption of new platforms to support NPD in healthcare sectors, the work to-date confirms the potential to 'open-up' and accelerate activity. 2 New opportunities for SME manufacturers and suppliers to develop products and services - The detailed exploration of stakeholder perspectives carried out identifies the potential for SMEs to contribute in a number of more collaborative activities enabled by the type of platform and related content prototyped. 3 Enhanced and sustainable product and service propositions, with associated economic and user benefits, created as a result of improved user-centred design approaches - Through participation in workshops alongside stakeholders in dementia care, and through workshops shaping the potential of the prototype platform, the empathetic potential of the approach was clearly validated 4 Uplift in employment and revenues amongst SMEs as a result of the new opportunities created - The potential employment and economic uplifts for SMEs as a result of any implementation of a platform has not been directly validated by the research, but the increased business interest in the provision of innovative approaches to healthcare services (ref) confirms the timeliness of work in this area. The work has enhanced awareness and interest in capitalising on these emerging opportunities amongst the project partners and networks 5 Application of the open innovation platforms in other scenarios, markets and geographies further enhancing opportunities for SMEs in the creative economy and beyond - similarly to point 4, the timeliness of the work is emphasised, particularly in the May workshop exploring potential stakeholder opportunities. Participants identified direct opportunities in much wider healthcare markets than the specific dementia care focus of the prototype work.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare
Impact Types Economic