Experience Based Design (EBD)

The EBD approach is a method of understanding what it feels like to experience a service from a patient (or other’s) point of view.

The approach captures the experiences of those using and delivering health care services. It involves looking at the care journey and in addition the emotional journey people experience when they come into contact with a particular pathway or part of the service.

Staff work together with patients and carers to firstly understand these experiences and then to improve the service they deliver.

Exploring EBD

  • Usually used for smaller sample groups, though it can also be used for a large audience if required
  • Designed to capture how people feel at certain points in their pathway, as well as why they feel that way
  • Enables you to gather feedback in real time
  • Captures much richer and more personal data than through a standard questionnaire
  • It can be more difficult to evaluate the findings than a standard survey
  • Created with both users and staff in mind

Using EBD

It's not difficult to include experience based design in your research, especially when using the tools that have been developed by NHS Elect. These tools fall into three main groups:

1. Learning from patients
These tools focus on improving services through feedback from patients.

2. Learning from staff
These tools focus on improving the patient experience through feedback from staff.

3. Additional tools
These tools provide additional support and feedback to improve services. You can pick and choose the tools that you use, but it's advisable to use one of the patient feedback tools, plus one of the staff feedback tools, as well as any additional tools that you may find beneficial.

Take a look at the full EBD guide on the NHS Elect website 

Experience based design in action

Here's an example of how EBD has been used in Solent:

A physiotherapist was part of a team in Solent that had introduced a new self referral service. She used experience based design to capture how people felt about their journey through this new service. In her words:

“It became apparent how powerful conversations can be. I met patients informally before and after their physiotherapy appointment and asked them about how they felt at each stage of the process. Patients could choose from a selection of words that best described their feelings at the time and shared their narrative. I then emotionally mapped their journey and identified touch points.
The majority of patients were really happy with the service and felt reassured and supported. Giving patients a voice also allowed issues to be raised and as a direct result of conversations I was able to change the wording on text messages sent to patients regarding their appointments so they were clearer and easier to understand. I found the EBD tool simple to use and full of rich information which we can use to improve patient experience. Going forward using EBD to co-design services will be invaluable.”