Flemish Patient Platform
Sector -
Health & Wellbeing
Philippe Vandenbroeck
Pars Pro Toto

Patient-driven innovation in health-care


Health-care innovation is still very often technology-driven. The Flemish Patient Platform (Vlaams Patiëntenplatform), a broad alliance of patient organisations that defends the interests of chronically-ill patients, asked shiftN and design studio Pars Pro Toto to design and conduct a participatory innovation process. The aim was to involve the platform’s members in drawing up a patient-driven innovation agenda. The project was co-financed by Flanders' Care.


For this ideation project we had to develop some innovative solutions. First we had to make sure the full spectrum of patient needs was covered. Therefore we had to develop an appropriate segmentation of the heterogeneous member base of the Flemish Patient Association. Once this segmentation was achieved, patients representative for various 'needs patterns' had to be recruited to actively participate in the process. 

The involvement of patients in participatory ideation processes is delicate so a suite of low-threshold observational techniques had to be developed to make it easy for patients to contribute. The observed need patterns were subsequently consolidated as personas and used in a multistakeholder ideation process. Around 200 ideas were gathered which where finally structured in a patient-driven innovation agenda with 5 overarching themes: supporting self-management, supporting acceptance and recovery, countering stigmatisation, supporting informal carers and enhancing reciprocity. 


Both the method employed in this innovation project as the result have proved influential. The segmentation of the patient association's member base was an important insight for the organisation. Also the innovation agenda has turned into a strategic benchmark for the VPP. It clearly reinforces the point that traditional supply-driven innovation covers only a fraction of patient needs.