Re-engineering siloed systems of care through evidence-integrated design thinking

Project Type(s):

Principal Investigator(s):

Behavioral health, including suicidal behaviors and problematic substance use, are significant public health concerns and are routinely identified by community health departments as a high priority. However, needed services are highly fragmented across multiple systems (e.g., prevention, primary care, schools). Addressing these urgent public health concerns requires decisionmakers to collaborate and coordinate services. System-level planning efforts tend to fail because adopted models are either not informed by evidence, or policy decisions do not have sufficient community buy-in and are poorly implemented.

To address this gap, our team created a hybrid approach, “System Codesign,” in which researchers and local decisionmakers form a design workgroup and collaborate to create a tailored and sustainable plan to address community public health issues. This partnership approach allows end users to be actively involved in the design process to help ensure that the outcome meets the needs and expectations of the community. The researcher’s role is to locate and synthesize research findings relevant to the community agency’s goals and assist in integrating these principles within real world programming. This new “System Codesign” approach is built from well-established participatory and implementation frameworks and incorporates evidence-informed standards in research into the energy and creativity of design thinking to support local systems. This model is expected to incorporate evidence, innovation, and local relevance into final system products.

Our research team aims to assess the acceptability and feasibility of this “System Codesign” process as a tailored implementation method for tackling complex behavioral healthcare issues. Our aim is to partner with the state Healthcare Authority (HCA) to pilot this approach with a rural Washington community, Grays Harbor County, which has a high prevalence of behavioral health needs. The proposed design workgroup will leverage cross-system participation from behavioral health, justice, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, schools, and community members.

Project Period:
May 1, 2020 May 1, 2021

Funding Type(s):

UW Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Geographic Area(s):

Practice Type(s):
Community-Based Organizations, Online/remote/apps/social media, Rural

Targeted Condition(s):
Substance use disorders/misuse