Developing design principles for a Virtual Hospice: improving access to care

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Abstract

Objectives

Providing access to hospice services will become increasingly difficult due to the pressures of an ageing population and limited resources. To help address this challenge, a small number of services called Virtual Hospice have been established. This paper presents early-stage design work on a Virtual Hospice to improve access to services provided by a hospice (Highland Hospice) serving a largely remote and rural population in Scotland, UK.

Methods

The study was structured as a series of Experience Labs with Highland Hospice staff, healthcare professionals and patients. Experience Labs employ a participatory design approach where participants are placed at the centre of the design process, helping to ensure that the resultant service meets their needs. Data from the Experience Labs were analysed using qualitative thematic analysis and design analysis.

Results

A number of themes and barriers to accessing Highland Hospice services were identified. In response, an initial set of seven design principles was developed. Design principles are high-level guidelines that are used to improve prioritisation and decision making during the design process by ensuring alignment with research insights. The design principles were piloted with a group of stakeholders and gained positive feedback.

Conclusions

The design principles are intended to guide the ongoing development of the Highland Hospice Virtual Hospice. However, the challenges faced by Highland Hospice in delivering services in a largely remote and rural setting are not unique. The design principles, encompassing digital and non-digital guidelines, or the design approach could be applied by other hospices in the UK or overseas.

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