/ Recommendations for planning and conducting online co-design
/ Collaborators: Dr. Kate Sellen, Maryam Mallakin, Christina Dery
/ Contributors: Molly McGovern, D.DEC Team (Case Study 1) - Samuel Vaillancourt, Sahil Gupta, Yesmeen Ghader, Matthew Beaubien, Alessandra Ceccacci, Galo Ginocchio, Christopher Rice, and Victoria Weng
The purpose of the project was to identify principles, activities, and tools for consideration in the design, development, and conduct of online co-design in the health sector. We reviewed current theories, best-practices, and the studio project experiences during the pandemic, to propose techniques for the design, planning, and implementation of online co-design.
/ Background & Need
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the work environment to a new reality of remote work and virtual collaboration, which has resulted in the broad use of virtual tools in the healthcare sector to avoid physical encounters and in-person interactions. In recent years, participatory design methods (e.g., co-design) have become increasingly popular and more widely applied in segments of the healthcare system. The application of these methods in an online setting are rapidly expanding, specifically in the new era of remote work and collaboration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of online health design methods (e.g., online co-design) has increased to meet the realities of COVID 19 restrictions. Adapting and utilizing participatory health design methods in an online setting requires the knowledge and skills of virtual technologies and virtual collaboration methods. Practical frameworks and models for online co-designing would not only be very beneficial and helpful in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but also would be an extension of co-design practices in broader and more inclusive contexts, beyond the pandemic.
Need: Further research is required to design or effectively transfer design research methods to an online setting. Although transforming all design research methods and techniques to an online setting may not be possible or necessary, providing more inclusive and hands-on research opportunities are required to equip design researchers in this new era of research and collaboration. Adapting the use of design methodologies like co-design to an online configuration requires rethinking methods of collaboration, communication, adapting to new environments, and creating new methods of engagement and facilitation. There are various limitations and challenges that require more responsive and comprehensive guidelines to address them, including: accessibility and equity, communication, creativity, engagement, sensemaking and ethics.
We reviewed current practices to identify beneficial tools, techniques, and principles that are effective for designing, developing, and conducting online co-design methods in health-related design and research projects. We used a two-pronged approach 1) a scoping review and 2) a case study of online co-design in the healthcare sector from the Health Design Studio’s work. We undertook a review of the academic and grey literature to provide an overview of the available research and practice in collaborative and participatory approaches (in-person/online). We aimed to identify the main challenges and opportunities of these approaches in an online setting, specifically focused on an online co-design in the healthcare system. Additionally, we used a case study (the Designing Discharge after Emergency Care ‘D-DEC’ project) as a parallel activity to experiment with techniques and draw additional insights about the main challenges, opportunities, benefits, and drawbacks in online co-design for health-related research. The Designing Discharge after Emergency Care (D-DEC) project, aimed to develop an improved and appropriate patient-centered approach for discharge information in the emergency department (ED). As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the project had to move its co-design work online for the duration of the project.
We identified the main challenges in online co-design. We also identified the essential factors which to be considered in the design, planning and conducting of an online participatory approach. The project results are available as:
/ Online Co-Design Toolkit
The online co-design toolkit has been developed to address the challenges in applying participatory design approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic-- lack of physical encounters, in-person interaction and in-person collaboration.
The toolkit consists of information, recommendations, examples of current practices, useful resources, and links to printable materials including: Information cards, quick guide (one-pager) and a checklist for planning and conducting an online co-design session.
The toolkit is the result of our own adaptations during the pandemic combined with a comprehensive study on co-design approaches (online/in-person) and virtual engagement and collaboration settings, including: challenges, limitations, enabling factors, improvement opportunities, and best-practices.
We aimed to develop a guiding framework to provide practical information and useful resources for designing, planning and conducting a successful online co-design project.
Although the toolkit was developed as a response to the pandemic situation, it would also be beneficial and useful as an extension to co-design for enhancing inclusion.
We aimed to continually update and evolve the toolkit as we learn more about online design/research and distanced co-design approaches. We hope that the toolkit will help to inform and enhance co-design practices, and provide useful resources to equip health designers/researchers.
If you have feedback for us about the Toolkit, or if you have a case study to share with us, please contact us.