The Saudi Patient Safety Center, established in 2017, is the first of its kind in the region. It aims to empower patients and families and raise awareness of patient safety as a key fundamental of healthcare, establish and improve the patient safety culture within public and private health providers, become the leading source of accurate and reliable information about patient safety in the country and promote innovation and research as a dynamic process for improving patient safety functions. In its first year of operation, the SPSC was able to sign 6 agreements, collaborate with 28 entities, and was able to provide training to more than 2500 individuals. What is more, greater than 150 volunteers assisted in the operations of the SPSC during this year.
The SPSC approached us with respect to a challenge that they were facing which involved medical practitioners, who are responsible for patient safety yet were experiencing significant medical errors during their practice. From the perspective of human-centered design, any solution for this challenge should come from the practitioners themselves, and should ideally be motivated through practitioners putting themselves in the shoes of the patients. We therefore held a design thinking workshop with medical practitioners, to allow them to do just that and be able to create solutions to reduce these medical errors.
One viable idea which resulted from this workshop was to design badges which could be worn by the medical staff. Through such badges, patients could be made aware of their rights and healthcare staff would be more vigilant about doing their work in a hygienic manner. Each healthcare employee would be wearing two badges: one addressing the patients, and one from the Health Authority addressing the healthcare practitioners themselves. As part of our design recommendations, we specified that the badges would have a sustainable design so that the messages on them could be periodically changed without the need to discard the whole badge. Last but not least, we emphasized the importance of having the messages on the badges accompanied by relevant hashtags, so that the trending of such hashtags on social media may be monitored as a measure of the effectiveness of the badges.
We also proposed the development of two other potential solutions which could assist the SPSC in achieving its objectives. The first of these was an expert patients’ association; a civil society organization which could help empower patients by allowing them to benefit from the experiences of ‘experts’ (those who have previously had the same illness). This would inevitably help to raise awareness about patient safety.
Yet another solution we worked on designing was an innovation hub which could meet SPSC’s objective of promoting innovation and research in the domain of patient safety. The hub could include a portal through which innovative healthcare solutions could be found using crowdsourcing, and could be selected using public opinion. The hub could also carry out design thinking workshops for healthcare staff and professionals across Saudi Arabia.