Coproduction and my strained finger

March 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I sprained my finger. During a football game I got tackled and landed in way that twisted my finger. With the adrenaline pumping I didn’t really feel anything, but afterwards it really hurt and I thought about going to the A&E to have it wrapped it up, and get some professional advice on how to deal with my injury.

Luckily, before I did that, I had a quick chat to a friend of mine who plays basketball, who assured me that ‘this happens all the time in basketball’, and reassured me that all I needed to to was go home, put some ice on it  and “buddy tape” it, by taping it to an adjacent bigger stronger finger. I followed his advice, and now, two weeks later, my finger is almost fully recovered.

So, what does my weekday football accident mean for innovation in public services? Well, the whole process of it made me think about what the boundaries are between seeking professional help and caring for your self. Most people know how to deal with a headache (take a pill), or deal with a cold (drink camomile tea, put on warm scarf and stay in bed etc.), and would not normally seek professional help to deal with these types of illness. But what about straining or breaking your finger, would you seek professional help for that or deal with it your self? If I hadn’t had a friend who had experience with the same kind of injury from basketball, I would probably have gone to the A&E.

In society, there are injuries and illnesses, like the ones mentioned above, where knowledge about how to deal with these shared between friends and family, mean that we often don’t need professional help to deal with them. But then, there are lots of conditions, injuries, illnesses etc. where there is little collective knowledge and capacity, and professional help is the only option.  In most cases this will be a natural progression, most conditions only professionals can help you with, and you shouldn’t try and treat your self.

But I’m still interested in what other conditions sit in the grey zone between what I can do to treat myself or my friends and family have the capacity to help me with, and when I should seek professional help.

A friend helping me with my strained finger, might not be the best example of this, as few people in general  will probably experience this type of injury, but none the less, a good example of collective knowledge of a treatment that benefits a community of athletes. Another great example of building collective knowledge on a treatment within a community that enables self treatment is the expert patient programme, where patients with long term health conditions, are being taught how to better self manage their condition, on courses that are facilitated by trained tutors who are themselves living with a long-term condition.

The two above are more about specific groups and capacity building within these. But what are the general capabilities that we have in society to self manage our conditions, and what are the areas where we are still very reliant on professional help. Teaching people to do first aid and CPR are classic examples of pushing some capabilities of initial treatment out in to society, and Mental Help First Aid and Patient Hotels (Both case studies in our Radical Efficiency report) more recent examples. 

I am sure there must be lots of great examples of this already out there, and even more great ideas to where it could happen in the future. It would be interesting if the comments to this blog could explore where you see a potential in building your own as well as the capabilities of friends and family to take a more active part in coproducing parts of yours or others health?

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Entry filed under: Health, Innovation Worldwide, Radical Efficiency, Uncategorized.

Must-read article by Atul Gawande on delivering better, cheaper medical care through ‘hot spotting’ (New Yorker) Apps of steel

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