The recent increase in competitiveness in the health care markets has led to a paradigm shift towards a “patient-centered care” that transcends the traditional focus on patients’ clinical needs to include, among others, patients’ preferences and values, physical comfort, involvement of family, and access to care. Whilst patient related drivers in organizations used to focus on clinical effectiveness and cost efficiency in the old paradigm, patients’ perceptions of quality and value are the key drivers in the patient-centered care paradigm. Clinical outcomes will always remain valuable to patients and health care organizations alike; however, this is only one of the aspects that define value of services from the patients’ perspective today. Accordingly, defining a framework of performance improvement in health care organizations around the patients and their needs is critical for the creation of “valuable” care delivery services in today’s health care context.
The traditional views of value creation are misleading because they position the patient outside the value chain. Academia and practice have both witnessed a major transition towards management practices that are more inclusive of external stakeholders, as means of value co-creation. The literature on value co-creation in health care is starting to gain more attention, however, there is still a need to better understand how patients can contribute to the value co-creation process. Specifically, an important question that reflects a current gap in the literature is how to incorporate the patients’ perspective for designing services that offer better patient experience while learning from them about improving these services.
Since co-creating experiences is at the basis of value creation, in this study, American University of Beirut – Faculty of Health Sciences, Graduate Public Health Program researchers utilize the Mystery Patient (MP) tool for capturing patient experience data about non-clinical service provision. The design and development of this tool, as well as the general theoretical approach to improving patient experience, were all grounded in Action Research (AR).
While it is not a value co-creation tool by itself, the researchers argue that the MP tool can play a critical role in facilitating the process of value co-creation by generating targeted evidence about patient experience from their perspective. Researchers draw on spiral model of AR to illustrate how the MP tool can play a catalytic role in the process of co-creating experiences by generating data from (simulated) patients that can highlight specific interventions necessary for improving patient experience and tailoring service provision to their needs. They first explore the linkages between value co-creation, patient experience, and the MP, and then illustrate the catalytic role that the MP plays in the process of value co-creation through patient experience while relying on the AR methodological framework.