The customer in focus Patient roles in designing and improving care processes
Licentiate thesis, 2013

Challenges in today’s healthcare are many. One of them is that a patient focus is missing in design and improvement of care processes. Traditionally healthcare professionals have done the improvements of care processes in a way they assumed were best based on their experiences and professional knowledge. However, it is only the patient that has experiences of the entire care process. Hence, this way of improving care can contribute to building barriers between specialist functions, for instance between different outpatient clinics and hospital wards. Since the late 1980s, principles, practices and tools for quality management have received increased attention from healthcare organizations. Process orientation with a patient focus has been spread as an example of a beneficial quality management practice. Patient experiences are becoming important sources of information, and there are recent examples of collaboration between patients and healthcare professionals in the actual improvement of care processes. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge base concerning design of good care. More specifically, it aims to explore patient’s roles in care processes, and the ways in which a patient focus can contribute to the design and improvement of care processes. The thesis is based on three improvement projects in care processes. The three improvement projects are described in three appended papers. Paper I is about design of a medication process with a Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) approach. Paper II studies an application of the Kano model aimed to support development of an understanding of patients as customers in various roles in children’s and women’s healthcare. Finally, Paper III is based on a project in a neonatal process, using experience-based co-design – EBCD. The thesis is based on an action research approach at Skaraborg hospital, Sweden. One common notion in the appended papers is that there is a need for customer orientation in healthcare related to care processes, instead of focus on different functions. Moreover, in care processes the patient is a customer pursuing various roles. When improving care processes, experiences of both patients and healthcare professionals is needed. However, in each case considerations has to be made about the importance of involving patients in improvement work. The result of the studies also highlights various roles that patients can have in improvement of care processes, including the role for the patient as co-designer of improvements. Still, the co-designer role asks for a new way of viewing patients in healthcare. A view based on more equal power between patients and healthcare professionals. Thus could be viewed as a paradigm shift in healthcare. Keywords: quality management, customer focus, care processes, patient roles, healthcare


patient roles

quality management

care processes

customer focus

Wasa C
Opponent: Pär Höglund, MD PhD Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and Welfare Jönköpings University, Medical Management Center, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm


Susanne Gustavsson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

The medication process – a design for Six Sigma

International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage,; Vol. 7(2012)p. 1-11

Journal article

Identification of customer needs in healthcare – translating patient needs into critical-to-quality characteristics

14th QMOD International Conference, August, San Sebastian,; (2011)

Paper in proceeding

Subject Categories

Other Mechanical Engineering

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)

Licentiate thesis, report - Department of Technology of Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology

Wasa C

Opponent: Pär Höglund, MD PhD Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and Welfare Jönköpings University, Medical Management Center, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

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