2. Is experience-based co-design for you?

Experience-based co-design (EBCD) is a different approach to service improvement because it captures the experiences of patients, carers and staff through discussion, observation and filmed interviews.

1 EBCD: Is experience-based co-design for you?

Gathering information about patients' experience is not new – but it is usually done through audits or surveys, which can be unsophisticated tools for discovering what really matters to patients. By enabling patients and service users to tell the stories of their experiences from their point of view, EBCD often reveals unexpected areas for improvement that can be surprisingly simple to overcome.

In this approach, patients and staff work alongside each other to identify problems that can be practically overcome and to develop implementable solutions that benefit everyone. The result can be long-lasting change that genuinely makes a difference to patients’ experience, along with many wider benefits that result from participating in a revealing, challenging and inspiring collaboration.

The growing evidence base

Key points

  • EBCD is a very straightforward and flexible approach that can lead directly to action and genuine improvement.
  • EBCD offers an opportunity for dialogue that provides rich insights into the nuance and meaning of patient feedback and can complement other feedback methods, such as surveys and audits.
  • EBCD can help organisations meet strategic objectives within the quality agenda, including improving patients' experience and involving patients, and engaging large numbers of staff in service improvement.
  • There is a growing body of evidence of effectiveness of EBCD as an approach to improve patient experience. (See evidence and further reading around experience-based co-design).
  • Ensuring genuine patient involvement can be a challenge in the face of competing demands. This approach brings the patient voice to the heart of service development in a way that helps staff feel inspired and motivated to make and sustain the changes.
  • EBCD is a fresh approach that moves service improvement discussions away from the usual topics, to reveal the often hidden factors shaping patient experiences – for example, it might identify that the most frustrating aspect of long waiting times relates to poor communication rather than the wait itself.
  • The approach focuses on solutions that patients and staff develop together, to produce realistic goals that will benefit staff and patients alike.
  • Patients provide both positive and negative feedback through a constructive, collaborative process that participants often describe as motivating and inspiring. This reduces the challenges of receiving feedback that may be critical.
  • The two-way process develops connections across staff teams and between staff and patients, and can boost confidence and motivation levels.
  • Because patients are involved throughout the development process, EBCD offers the opportunity to check back with patients to make sure that the changes made succeed in improving patients’ experience.
  • Importantly, the approach involves patients and staff working together to design and make improvements to their services.
  • The approach can easily be adapted to encompass the views of carers too.

Read the next section

3. Making the case for the project