People in the West wanted to try out two new healthcare innovations

People in the West of England living with long-term health conditions are invited to take part in an exciting healthcare innovation project to test and shape two potential new products.

Both have been designed by entrepreneurs in Bristol: one product is designed to help people with dementia, while the other is an app to aid speech therapy.

The call comes from the Design Together, Live Better project, which connects citizens with companies and entrepreneurs to co-create the next generation of healthcare solutions based on real needs.

Intelligent Sounds

Design Together, Live Better is recruiting people whose speech has been affected as a result of their health condition (such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or a head injury) to test ‘Intelligent Sounds’. This is an app for smart phones and tablets, which helps people practise, improve and perfect speech sounds.

The Intelligent Sounds app has been developed by Jenny Dance, a linguist and marketing analyst from Bishopston and Director of Phona Ltd.

Jenny says, “I initially developed an app in partnership with Oxford University Press to help non-native speakers of English improve their pronunciation. Due to a neurological problem, I suffered episodes of slurred, unintelligible speech and began to see the potential for the app to be used as a speech therapy tool as well.

“Through the Design Together, Live Better project, I’m really keen to work with people in the West of England experiencing speech difficulties to get their feedback on Intelligent Sounds, and how I can better tailor the app to cater for different health conditions.”

People interested in getting involved and testing out Intelligent Sounds can find out more at: designtogetherlivebetter.org/intelligent-sounds/.

Music Memory Box

People living with dementia and those close to them (family, friends, carers) are also invited by Design Together, Live Better to try out and share their feedback on the ‘Music Memory Box’, a personalised, multi-sensory device that enables its owner to recall memories.

Chloe Meineck from Bedminster runs Studio Meineck, which specialises in ‘designing with rather than for people’.

Chloe says: “I co-designed the first Music Memory Box with a loved one with dementia. Now I am in the process of putting it into production and would love to hear what people from across the Westcountry think about it, and their feedback about the design and use of it.

“The Music Memory Box is designed to look like a shoebox. It can be filled with precious trinkets. Making use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, Music Memory Box allows these objects to trigger music, encouraging the owner to recall memories. This creates a personal, multi-sensory reminiscence activity for a person living with dementia, helping them to recollect and reconnect with their loved ones.”

People interested in getting involved and testing out the Music Memory Box can find out more at: designtogetherlivebetter.org/the-music-memory-box/.

A game changer

Design Together, Live Better has been developed by the NHS-funded West of England Academic Health Science (AHSN) to encourage meaningful dialogue between patients and companies and gather user input.

Lars Sundstrom, Enterprise Director at the West of England AHSN, says: “We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.

“Our new innovation platform will do exactly that by putting people in touch with each other, to co-design and co-create the next generation of innovative healthcare products so that they precisely match currently unmet needs. I am really excited about this – it could be a real game changer!”

The project is keen to work with more innovators looking to co-design and test their innovations with users. If you are an entrepreneur with a new concept or product being developed, find out more about connecting with the Design Together, Live Better community at designtogetherlivebetter.org/innovators

New online platform enables citizens to shape healthcare solutions

An online citizen innovation platform has been launched to bring together members of the public living with different health conditions to share ideas and help develop the next generation of healthcare products.

Design Together, Live Better connects citizens (patients, carers, family members, friends or anyone interested in health) with companies and entrepreneurs to co-create new healthcare solutions based on real needs.

“We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.” Lars Sundstrom, Enterprise Director

Two healthcare projects are already live on the platform and seeking citizen input: a speech therapy app called ‘Intelligent Sounds’, which could be used by people who have suffered strokes or head injuries or have Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis; and the ‘Music Memory Box’ which helps people with dementia to recall memories.

The Design Together, Live Better platform has been developed by the West of England AHSN and was launched at the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ event in Swindon in April.

The event explored and celebrated the increasing role members of the public play in the co-design and co-production of new products, as it is being recognised that people living with challenging health conditions are best placed to see what features are needed in new products and technologies.

Hilary Newiss, chair of the health and social care charity coalition National Voices, was the event’s key note speaker. Hilary has been central to developing recommendations as part of the NHS Accelerated Access Review on putting patients at the centre of health care.

Three patients-turned-innovators also shared their inspiring stories of designing new products in response to their own health conditions.

Michael Seres invented the Ostom-iAlert after receiving a bowel transplant and discovered a need to improve how he monitored and shared data on his condition with health professionals.
Kevin Mashford was born with congenital heart disease and has spent all his life in and out of hospital. Kevin developed Mi Heart, both a patient app and clinician platform enabling the efficient communication of symptoms, appointments, vital statistics and medication.
Iain Stevenson has type 2 diabetes and has used his IT background both to manage his condition and develop his technology, Soupdragon, the Trustwall API which enables individuals to securely manage their digital identity and personal data, and choose how to share this with health professionals.

However not everyone living with a health condition is in a position to develop their own solution, which is why the West of England Academic Health Science Network has developed the Design Together, Live Better platform to facilitate meaningful dialogue between patients and companies and gather user input.

Delegates at the event were given the opportunity to help share their ideas to shape and develop this new platform, which is currently at beta-testing stage.

Lars Sundstrom, Enterprise Director at the West of England AHSN, says: “We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.

“Our new innovation platform will do exactly that by putting people in touch with each other, to co-design and co-create the next generation of innovative healthcare products so that they precisely match currently unmet needs. I am really excited about this – it could be a real game changer!”

Join the community

Anyone interested in joining the Design Together, Live Better community can do so online at designtogetherlivebetter.org/join-our-community. You can also follow us on Twitter at @DTLB_ and on Facebook at /designtogetherlivebetter.

Call for innovators

We are keen to work with innovators looking to co-design and test their innovators with users. If you are an innovator with a new concept or product being developed, find out more about connecting with the Design Together, Live Better community at designtogetherlivebetter.org/innovators.

Contact

For more information, please email us at enterprise@weahsn.net.

Five things to consider before embarking on co-production

What does co-production actually mean in practice? asks Hildegard Dumper, the West of England AHSN’s Patient and Public Involvement Manager.

You might have noticed there are a number of buzz words currently flying around, the most common starting with the prefix ‘co’: co-produce, co-design and co-create. Even NHS England talks about co-design in its Five Year Forward View. I thought I would share with you my understanding about these ‘co’ words, and what they mean for us.

The first thing we need to understand is that all these ‘co’ words describe an approach to working with the public that regards each individual, regardless of their role, as having a valuable contribution to make. Central to this approach are principles of reciprocity and equality. We at the West of England AHSN have committed ourselves to being guided by these principles and working in a co-produced way.

There are a number of definitions of co-production. The National Co-production Critical Friends defines it as…

‘a relationship where professionals and citizens share power to plan and deliver support together, recognising that both have vital contributions to make in order to improve quality of life for people and communities.’

The New Economic Foundation / NESTA suggests co-production is…

‘delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.’

 NHS England’s Citizen’s Assembly describes co-production as…

‘service users, or the public in general, working in partnership with service providers or commissioners to jointly make decisions.’

So what does this actually mean for us in practice? There are a number of things that need to be considered when deciding to work in a co-produced way.

1. What’s in scope?

Decide which pieces of work are suitable for co-production and what can and cannot be achieved by involving people in this way.

2. Identify resources

Consider what resources you have available. Think about:

  • Staffing – who will be managing the project?
  • Funding – have you the resources to pay travel expenses and/or people’s time? See our guide to paying expenses.
  • Timing – involving people takes longer. What is your time-line?
  • Identifying suitable people – what kind of selection process would be fair and appropriate?

3. Produce role descriptions

Develop and agree with your public contributors a role description which clearly states the time commitment expected from them, the length of their involvement and payment details (a template role description is available).

4. Create a level playing field

Identify where power imbalances can exist and take steps to minimise them. For example, don’t have meetings at a time that excludes public contributors from attending or from taking part in the background thinking and development of a project.

5. Value difference

Work with a wide range of people, using different people for different pieces of work.

It has been shown that where genuine co-production has taken place, it can deliver better outcomes, support better use of scarce resources and improve the well-being of those involved – clearly a win/win situation for the West of England AHSN.