Health Systems Research has been a key pillar of our portfolio and we have considerably deepened our engagement with this field over the past 18 months. Key clients are the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE), the King Baudouin Foundation and the Flemish Patient Association.
KCE contracted us to design and lead a broad stakeholder consultation on the functioning of the national medical workforce projection model. This was an interesting and challenging assignment on different accounts: the technicality of the subject, the political sensitivity of the issue and the breadth of the stakeholder field involved. We relied on a mix of data gathering and stakeholder engagement methods and were able to successfully conclude this assignment with the short time interval granted (just over three months). The report is available for download from the KCE website.
One of the report’s key recommendations to the national planning commission concerned a more systematic use of foresight methods in the planning approach. In response, the commission tasked KCE with the development of an appropriate horizon scanning methodology. shiftN was subcontracted to assist the KCE reseachers in developing a scenario-based stakeholder elicitation process. The first case study concerned the planning of the future workforce of midwifes in our country.
Another KCE research project contracted to shiftN focused on the analysis of the Belgian national antibiotics policy. We were asked to develop a systems map of the policy arena, with its friction points and opportunities, based on an extensive stakeholder consultation. This process is ongoing. The final report is due in the fall.
Meanwhile we have also been involved in other health care-related assignments. The King Baudouin Foundation asked shiftN to carry out a mapping of innovative international practices to promote patient health literacy, with a particular emphasis on practices and tools related to primary care. The research started with a conceptual framing of this complex and emerging area and proceeded with the identification and documenting of cases from a wide variety of countries.
The Flemish Patient Association (VPP) has been long-time client of shiftN. VPP contracted us to develop a tool to help patients with a chronic condition to articulate their life goals. The aim of the tool is to empower patients in their relationships with care providers. On this innovative project we collaborated with design studio Pars Pro Toto. The resulting ‘Goal Seeker’ (Doelzoeker) has been lauded as an innovative example of patient empowerment. VPP is currently developing partnerships to introduce the Goal Seeker to health care professionals.
These assignments challenged us to come up with innovative approaches to gather and visualise data, engage academic experts and stakeholders, and design novel tools.