Good patient engagement, or any qualitative research, is about getting to know a person, not just getting facts. 

How can you conduct better patient engagement?

Continue reading for our five helpful design tips for getting to know your patients.

There are people we know casually, and then there are our best friends. The casual friend might be someone you know at work. You know how they behave in one particular environment and you likely know a few facts about them. 

For example, I may work with Jane and know what she does at the office. I am certain she is married and has two kids—less certain about the number of cats she may have. She is a graduate of Queen’s University and dependable. Beyond that, Jane is a mystery. 

However, a best friend is something very different. I know my best friend so well I am able to predict how they might react in certain circumstances. “I know Brian will love this book because he studied history and his father fought in the war this book is about.” 

When you really know someone you know facts, contextual information, a deep appreciation of their emotions and what matters to them. As a result, you can predict their behaviour and delight them with surprises that show you care. 

When it comes to conducting patient engagement research, it is unrealistic to want to become everyone’s best friend, but you certainly don’t want to end up with a collection of facts that don’t necessarily help you predict their needs. 

We use the following checklist when planning patient engagement research, and we hope it will help you in your next human insight project. 


Five do’s for Patient Engagement Research

1. Ask questions

Ask patients questions about themselvesinstead of a survey of predetermined answers, use open-ended, qualitative questions. 

2. Focus on experience

The things that are happening around their clinical interaction matters a lot to people. 

3. Write it down

Write everything down—nothing is too small of a detail. You can refine later.

4. Get a broad picture

Apply your engagement to family members or caring adults around the patient to understand the broader picture of their care. 

5. Go to them

Talk to patients in the cafeteria at a hospital or in waiting rooms. Be in their space and take note of the way the space looks, smells, and feels.


You might also enjoy:

💡 3 Easy-to-Use Design Tools for Understanding Patient Needs

💡 How A Journal Can be a Powerful Design Research Tool