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Co-Production in Building Healthcare Technology: Part One

April 12, 2017

This is part one of a series of three posts in which we will explore the concept of co-production and explain how this aligns itself to agile software development in healthcare technology design.

Already a valuable and productive approach to progressing ways of working within the public sector, it seems only natural that healthcare tech providers adopt the values of co-production when developing technological solutions.

What Is Co-production?

“Co-production is a key concept in the development of public services. It has the potential to make an important contribution to all of the big challenges that face care services” -

According to research by the Health Evaluation Team at Coventry University, as part of The Health Foundation, “Collaborative co-production requires users to be experts in their own circumstances and capable of making decisions, while professionals must move from being fixers to facilitators. To be truly transformative, co-production requires a relocation of power towards service users. This necessitates new relationships with front-line professionals who need training to be empowered to take on these new roles”

In terms of healthcare, patients are much more than recipients of care, and can actually contribute to a high level of service throughout the experience. Patient empowerment is an integral part of delivering high-quality and efficient service as it allows the patient to feel confident and in control. At the same time, empowerment can also be applied to front-line staff who deal with high volumes of patients everyday. We discussed the benefits of promoting patient empowerment in our previous post How Healthcare Technology Providers Can Reach More People.

The Benefits of Co-production

  • Creates better services for people - patients and users get the opportunity to have input in their care and service providers receive regular feedback to use to make necessary improvements
  • Improved sense of community  - helps people work better collectively
  • Great results encourage other services to work together more often
  • Works similarly to the “agile approach” as it encourages users to work in simpler yet innovative ways to produce better results

The Challenges of Co-production

  • Opposition from people involved in the project could slow down progress
  • Diverse views - partners from all walks of life and with different experiences might have different ideas about how the end product or service should look
  • Trying to produce something that everybody agrees on may result in the project moving too far beyond the brief and not actually fulfilling the original idea


Co-production creates a collaborative eco-system in which all parties receive a balanced “give and get”. Similarly, “agile Development” is a process of “learning by doing” in which partners contribute their needs, and solutions are regularly fed back to promote a healthy and scheduled timeline of productivity. In part two of our co-production series, we will explore further the benefits and challenges of agile development and how co-production works in harmony with this teamwork-driven approach to working.

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