How co-creation is benefiting innovation in health

Following a recent, antimicrobial resistance, living lab facilitated by Health Innovation Exchange partners,  Liverpool John Moores University and LCR Local Enterprise Partnership, Dr Laura Kelly, outlines how taking a co-creation approach is benefiting innovation in health.

Any health related product or service development process should involve stakeholders throughout, using their input to inform the eventual output. Commercial products live or die, in part, by the success of this process, but, for healthcare products and services, the stakes can be much higher, with the potential to make a real difference to people’s quality of life.

Co-creation is an approach that bakes in stakeholder involvement to the development process. Unlike traditional projects, for which stakeholders are typically engaged at discrete, milestone points, a co-creation approach embeds stakeholders into the development team.

A recent Living Lab, facilitated by Health Innovation Exchange partners the Centre for Collaborative Innovation in Dementia (at Liverpool John Moores University), the LCR Local Enterprise Partnership and the Mast Group, provides a good example of how co-creation can be successfully used in healthcare.

The lab, run to develop a suitable pathway for changing how antibiotics are prescribed to patients presenting with urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms, brought together over 21 participants representing health and social care, academia, business and end-users. One of the main points from the discussion was the need for clinical judgement and concerns related to risk perception (in terms of clinician prescribing and patient suffering) to be taken into account when developing new technology.

This collaborative group provided insights from a range of relevant perspectives, with the aim of providing an effective and rounded outcome.

To ensure that stakeholder input was gathered in a structured manner, the living lab was split into four phases, split over multiple sessions. A different approach may be required for projects with a different focus or longer timescales, but it should be possible to work through a similar approach for most co-creation projects. The stages were as follows:

  • Open Design – Participants are free to discuss challenges, solutions and qualities with no limitation of the type of product or service that could be developed.
  • Co-Design – An understanding of participants’ everyday needs is built, the type of required product or service identified and solutions and qualities developed within a project brief.
  • Co-Development – Participants help to develop initial ideas for a product or service and each assesses how well the idea will work from the perspective of their area of work.


  • Co-Customisation – Participants evaluate and improve an existing product design by assessing how the product fits into everyday life.


Via this process, participants identified a variety of challenges with the current antibiotic prescription process for patients with UTI symptoms, were able to suggest a number of possible solutions using existing technologies and were able to suggest possible future developments that might help to improve the process. Two pilot studies were identified as next steps.

This example shows how co-creation can be effectively implemented. Stakeholders are involved throughout the process from a variety of perspectives, limiting the chance of something being overlooked, providing a comprehensive view and ensuring that all relevant parties are considered when planning future activity.

If you would like to explore innovative and sustainable solutions by engaging in a Living Labs, get in touch with the Health Innovation Exchange programme partners to see how we can help accelerate your business.