Co-designing Community Dental Services software
A dentist working in Community Dental Services (CDS) in the Northumberland Healthcare Trust of the NHS wanted to develop open source software to use in their clinics since most of the systems that they currently use are paper-based. The question was, what should the software look like? Here, where teeth are the easy part, oral health services are provided for patients with very complex or special needs or disabilities including autism, dementia and phobias. All NHS Trusts deliver these services and four Trusts with varying software systems agreed to second staff for half a day a week for six months to take part in the discovery. Co-design workshops were facilitated by the care analyst every second week and in alternate weeks staff were given tasks to do at their Trust clinics; observing, timing, collecting forms and data. Each Trust has its own version of every piece of management form. At first people act as though their document flow represents the pathways that should be “automated”. Software specification in the NHS is often done by people without special skills or experience but persistent co-design delivered an agreed patient care pathway as well as an extended narrative for future software development.
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