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Executive summary:


In recent times, the life sciences industry has been trying to find better ways to listen to the patient and carer voice. Patient engagement and support programmes are changing, and the concept of co-creation is becoming increasingly important. It makes sense to listen to the patient and their needs when it comes to developing medicines and services. New design approaches such as experience-based co-design (EBCD) and organisations such as the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have introduced quality improvement approaches that help to enhance the patient experience of care. However, while most within the industry are on board with the concept of patient-centricity, regulation and lack of clarity around it can make co-creation feel like a difficult task.


Involving patients in the creation and development of your content can help you consider their long-term needs and how to optimise support programmes. It has been shown to support people, products and companies through: improving adherence to positive health behaviours and outcomes generating real impact with high levels of engagement aiding the personalisation of content, increasing patient satisfaction and trust.

Establishing co-creation means bringing patients in early and involving them every step of the way – whether it is at R&D stage for the creation of lay summaries, creating a new drug or treatment, or co-developing education and support materials. Creating solutions that patients are invested in helps to build advocates for your company or project, ultimately scaling your ability for impact through patient partnerships.

Co-creation is about collaborating with patients and caregivers to enable you to develop an in-depth understanding of the patient experience. It’s about striving to hear what patients are interested in, what they want and how they want to receive health information.


At Cognitant, we specialise in creating educational resources and support tools for patients. We apply a user-centred design to projects to better understand user needs. This helps us to identify insights and opportunities to design solutions that really work for patients. Our iterative design process means we are able to bring together the relevant stakeholders at the right time and co-create with patients to develop solutions that drive positive outcomes.

To read the full whitepaper, download it here


1. Plan carefully – it’s important to create the right environment for everyone in
the group to share their experiences. Some people might be nervous to share
personal information. Also consider whether healthcare professionals and
patients should be together in the same group.
2. Have a clear agenda – your approved agenda and any relevant pre-reading
material (pdfs) should be sent to eligible participants in advance via email.
This will put people at ease before the day starts as they will know what
to expect – though make sure you don’t overload them with information.
3. Make sure that people have an equal say in the group – choose your chair
carefully as some patients may not feel confident to speak up in a group
of strangers. You could consider asking a patient to chair the session to put
other people at ease.
4. Be mindful of patients’ needs – ensure the venue and timings are suitable for
the demographic of those in the focus group. It’s important to consider that
some may suffer from fatigue, be on strong medication or have a handicap.
5. Think about whether a virtual platform is more appropriate and accessible.
6. Virtual whiteboard tools such as Miro Board or Mural are a useful way of
capturing what is discussed on the day.
7. Consider health literacy – make sure the language you use throughout the
day is easy to understand. For example, instead of using the word ‘acute’
try saying ‘lasting a short time, but often causes a serious problem’. Avoid
complex medical jargon and abbreviations, and keep it relevant to the
patient’s experience. Consider using visual aids.
8. Consider language preferences – aim to conduct the co-creation process
in the person’s native language and provide supporting documents in
translated versions if necessary.
9. Keep people involved throughout the whole process – don’t forget to share
the findings of your focus group with people. Following up with participants
once you have some results will make them feel engaged and more likely to
want to take part in additional groups with you.
10. Think about how you can generate creative thinking – try to allow people to
look at an opportunity with fresh eyes. Enquire, probe and question – have a
two-way conversation with patients and other participants in the process. This
will allow you to generate new ideas that you might not have thought about.
11. Be prepared for an iterative process – you need to adopt a test and lead
approach for continuous improvement. It might be that your user testing
highlights further issues or obstacles along the way.


Our co-creation approach is mindful of the rules and regulations that you have
to comply with. Co-creation isn’t difficult if you know the right methods to use
and have the expertise to go about it. Hopefully our top tips can help you think
about what’s possible, in order to get the best possible outcome for the patient.
Ultimately, it’s about treating them as partners throughout the entire process and
not simply a focus group used for feedback. It can support you and the patient to
get the best result for their condition.

At Cognitant, you can trust that co-creation with your patients will be done
professionally. We understand the market and have key relationships with
contacts in the NHS, patient charities and leading experts across the health and
care sector. This means we are uniquely placed to hold focus groups that get the
right people around the table and design solutions that are tested in the market.
Our co-creation method not only unearths unmet needs for specific patient
groups, it allows us to discover which methods work best for the end-user and
how to deliver engaging and meaningful programmes.

To read the full whitepaper, download it here


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