Our first design workshop with Sheffield NHS Pathfinder

05 Jun 2017 |Written by Emily Redmond

On 25th May, we ran a design workshop in Sheffield with the first of our Pathfinder projects working with people on the ground to look at digital inclusion in social prescribing. You can find out more about the next phase of Good Things Foundation’s and NHS Digital’s programme by taking a look at the blog we wrote back in March.

In the same week that I made site visits to five GP practices in the Pathfinder areas, the design workshop brought together representatives from Sheffield CCG, GP practices in the two Pathfinder neighbourhoods — Porter Valley and South Sheffield — as well as representatives from local community and voluntary organisations including Online Centres. The question we were all there to try and answer — How can we embed digital inclusion in existing services?


In the 4 hour workshop, we worked together to explore:

  • Who is involved in healthcare in Sheffield and what do we know about them?
  • What does Digital Inclusion mean?
  • What services do we know about?
  • What happens now and what could be improved? (through patient journey mapping)
  • What shall we do next?
Who is involved and what do you we know about them? (Persona Creation)

Acting both as an icebreaker for the workshop but also perhaps the most important part of the design process, the first activity involved everyone in the room creating a persona for themselves. After each person had introduced the person next to them to the rest of the group, we then thought about the people who weren’t in the room. In total, 40 personas were created, including patients, receptionists, representatives from the third sector, Community Support Workers and Community Nurses. Getting these all down on paper and talking about their motivations and frustrations as a group was key to understanding more about the people we need to involve in the design process — their needs and current touch points with local services.

What is Digital Inclusion and what services do we know about?

As an interlude between planned activities and reacting to discussions and feeling in the room, we spent some time brainstorming as a group, what we mean by digital inclusion, and what we mean by services. Language is a powerful tool, yet it can sometimes be divisive. Activities like this are essential as they allow for all voices to be heard; definitions and assumptions to be thrown into the open and discussed; an appreciation of all points of view — all with the aim of achieving a common understanding of some key principles and ensuring we’re not too narrow in our thinking as the Pathfinder model is developed.


What happens now and what could be improved? (Journey Mapping)

Having discussed a variety of people and ideas, it was now time to look at the current journey of some key personas. We made two groups — one looked at Barry — a demotivated, unemployed former steelworker, who had been left feeling isolated, depressed and lonely after damaging his hearing at work. The other group looked at the current journey of a patient with asthma and posed the question: can a digital intervention get the patient to their goal more quickly and effectively?

The activity asked participants to think about what the situation is like now for these people — how do they feel, who do they come into contact with, what are their needs? It also asked participants to think about gaps in the journeys and how the route to persona goals could be improved. In other words — where could we develop ideas for our Pathfinder models?

What next?

This first design workshop was a huge success. We learnt a lot — not only about the neighbourhoods, but about the design process as we start to think about future Pathfinder projects.

For the next phase of the Sheffield Pathfinder project, we and Sheffield CCG will be holding more workshops in each neighbourhood, involving representatives from audience groups identified in the persona creation activity. We will be building on findings from the first workshop by revisiting and validating personas, prioritising gaps and opportunities and generating ideas.

Thanks to everyone involved so far. If you’d like to get in touch or find out more, email research@goodthingsfoundation.org.