Empathic Design for Healthcare Improvement

Minahi Al Khatani (2008)

The aim of the research is to investigate the potential of the Empathic Design (ED) technique to improve service quality in the Primary Health Care (PHC) services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). It is hoped that some of the findings can be extrapolated beyond PHC and beyond KSA.

The research has three stages:

  • Stage one: Research and modify the traditional use of ED in production to a form thought likely to be appropriate to the PHC setting.
  • Stage two: Apply the ED approach and an alternative approach (focus group) to improve PHC service quality. A case-study based research methodology was used with the adapted ED approach used in the Oraija Health Centre (case study 1), and the focus group approach used in the Rodhah Health Centre (case study 2).
  • Stage three: Evaluate the two different case-study interventions.

Primary Health Care centres in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been chosen to be the focus of the study. The two case-study sites, Oraija health centre and Rodhah health centre, are both in Riyadh city. Under the case-study methodology the participating ‘units’ are the two case-study sites, Oraija health centre and Rodhah health centre. The participants in the research at each site consisted of seven people: the researcher, the health centre manager, the medical director of the health centre, two patients from the health centre’s friends committee, a manager of another health centre, a health sector administrator. In addition the ‘improvements’ generated at the two health centres were evaluated by surveys of approximately 400 patients at each health centre and by two interviews with each the medical directors of the two health centres.

The modified ED approach devised in stage one of the research was applied in Oraija health centre. This consisted of a data collection phase, which is unique to ED, followed by a focus group phase to generate and select ideas for service improvements.  This was compared with a focus group method only in Rodhah centre, which met to generate and select ideas for service improvements, but without the data collection phase.

Funded by Saudi Arabian government.