Collaboration and Co-creation: the key to providing accessible, trusted health information that meets the needs of its intended users.

At Little Journey, we firmly believe that co-creation is fundamental to building great content. But what is co-creation and how does it work in practice?

At Little Journey, we firmly believe that co-creation is fundamental to building great content. But what is co-creation and how does it work in practice?

To help explain, our Editor-in-Chief Dr Libby Beake, describes the journey we took in co-creating our new neonatal pathway.


How it started – identifying the need:

Babies born either very early (premature) or sick often require admission to neonatal units; here they are cared for by teams of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. For parents, this is often an exceptionally difficult time – indeed, many parents who have experienced this describe it as an emotional rollercoaster. Parents are unexpectedly thrust into the clinical environment, surrounded by beeping machines and unfamiliar faces. Facing much uncertainty, they are then dealing with huge volumes of complicated and sometimes distressing information.

Recognising that there was a real need for parents to easily access trusted and reliable information and support, Dr Topun Austin (consultant neonatologist) and Katie Cullum (Lead Nurse for Innovation and Quality Improvement) from the East of England Neonatal Network contacted Little Journey.



Understanding the is problem is the crucial first step to ensuring that all our content serves its intended purpose. Speaking to Topun and Katie, we could see there was a need but now we needed to find out more. Led by our Chief Product Officer (and expert in human-centred design), we organised a series of workshops, advisory groups and individual interviews with health professionals, subject matter experts, and most importantly parents who had been through it all. We explored the journey families took, identified exactly where the pain points were, and discovered where could Little Journey really make a difference.


Cross-functional collaboration:

Armed with this information we then began to work on the solution. Led by our forward-thinking Chief Technology Officer, Azim Palmer, we held a day-long workshop involving our team of software developers, designers and content writers to explore ideas and map out potential solutions. Working cross-functionally in this way not only utilises the team’s complimentary skill sets, it also means that any crazy ideas fulfil the essential criteria of being actually possible to deliver on. What’s more, days spent in this way are great for team bonding!


Testing out our ideas:

We thought our ideas looked great – but that wasn’t the goal. Now we needed to test those ideas out with the people who really matter – in this case the parents who will use the app and the health professionals supporting them. Our super talented designer, Juan Joughin, created prototype designs, enabling our user-testers to easily envisage how the different concepts would look and feel. Juan then led a series of workshops with both parent advisory groups and healthcare professionals. At each workshop, participants were able to explore the different designs and provide feedback. Experimenting in this way, we were able to adjust and refine the designs, re-testing and re-iterating until we had a solution fit for purpose.


Working with PEEPS:

We couldn’t have created this pathway without the amazing volunteers at PEEPS. PEEPS is a charity set up by Sarah, a mother all too familiar with neonatal care. In March 2015 Sarah’s daughter, Heidi, stopped breathing shortly after she was born. Heidi experienced an HIE (hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy) event. In an instance, Sarah was catapulted into a world of acronyms, medical jargon and uncertainty. PEEPS (  was set up to support all those affected by HIE, striving to bring the information parents wanted direct to them when they needed it most. Through PEEPS, we were put in touch with several parents all of whom had experience of neonatal care, who kindly agreed to participate in our workshops and interviews. We are so thankful for these parents for giving their time, for providing honest and constructive feedback, and for reliving these painful moments in their lives.

We spoke to Sarah to find out her thoughts on helping us build the Little Journey neonatal pathway, and here’s what she said:

“We were keen to get involved in this project to make a difference to other families coming after us. It’s important that parents’ voices are heard - experiences and needs vary massively and until you’ve been in that situation you wouldn’t appreciate what could make a difference. Sometimes it can be the smallest detail that impacts the most. It was really good to be asked rather than someone thinking “this is what parents want” without asking parents. The workshops made me really think in a different way, to hear other families’ experiences. I felt that everyone’s voice was heard and could see that what we were saying was feeding into the overall design. I think that the end product will be really beneficial to families and look forward to seeing it when it’s launched!”

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