Stakeholder Profiling is important for identifying the people and organisations likely to be impacted by any proposed service change, as well as those who have an impact on how (and whether) any changes will be implemented.
Stakeholder profiling Is a multi-step process. First step is identifying key stakeholders, then collecting information on them, then you need to analyse that information so that you can work out who (and what) needs to be considered to move a project forward.
Typically, there are two distinct categories of stakeholders involved in service development projects. The first category is made up of people within the organisation who have capacity to influence the process (for example, the Director of Allied Health). The other category is the people who actually use the service (for example, cardiac rehabilitation patients aged 40 – 55 years and their referring treatment providers).
Organisational Stakeholders – Who Holds the Power?
There aren’t usually too many key organisational stakeholders. A simple way to identify this group is to think about who has the capacity to either influence project budgets or direct resources away from the project (such as use of the gym, administration staff, allied health staff, etc.). You should also consider who has the power to stop the project and whether there is anyone well placed to influence project success, i.e. someone who has a special interest in the area or who is particularly well connected.
Ask yourself: who in the organisation will win (or lose) if the service is a success (or not)? Are anyone’s KPIs or bonuses attached to it, or another competing project? Who has to provide the resources you will need the most, and what other demands might impact them?
Getting down to the Nitty Gritty
Once you’ve compiled a list of key stakeholders, the next step is to gather information about them. This might include their background and experience, as well as their values and areas of particular interest. What you’re really aiming for is to understand how they typically act in situations like this one – and why they respond this way. For example, there might be budget constraints that make them sensitive to pricing – or perhaps massively outdated technology systems which make it difficult to adopt new IT systems (even if they’re great). Most importantly, find out how they are likely to define success and/or failure in relation to your particular service development project so that you can highlight this in your reporting.
Once you understand the needs of the key organisational stakeholders, you can start thinking about how to obtain their buy-in, showcase short-term service success and address the issues of most importance to them in order to secure long term support for the service under development.
Service Delivery – Know your Users
Understanding the needs of service users is less about organisational politics and more about developing a detailed picture of the factors likely to shape service delivery within your target population.
There are a number of ways to do this: a review of current literature is always useful as an insight into factors known to be important in working with the identified population.
The next step is to consider the specific factors impacting on actual service users in your particular service setting. How? This may be as simple as asking them. For example, if your service is a large public hospital and you wanted to know how best to equip Physiotherapists with the skills to work effectively with neuropathic pain, you might administer an online survey or conduct a focus group. This could allow you to ask questions about the most common clinical presentations, confidence levels for working with this patient group, perceived knowledge/skill gaps, and preferred ways to acquire new information about treatment developments in this area.
One Size Does Not Fit All
On the other hand, if your service users are a patient population (for example, TBI patients with substance use problems, who may benefit from a specialised drug and alcohol service), direct questioning may not be so appropriate. In this case, there are a number of other options. The first is to gather service data in order to evaluate current service usage. So, for example, you might extract demographic and psychosocial information (such as age, housing, etc.) and service usage patterns about this particular patient subgroup from the data that has already been collected by the existing TBI service, say, over a 12-month period.
This quantitative information can then be fleshed out with qualitative data. For example, you might identify a number of key people (who work closely with the target population) for interview. This might include the intake workers, allied health staff on the TBI rehabilitation team and perhaps a couple of referrers (such as a Rehabilitation Consultant or local General Practitioner). These interviews might start out with some specific questions about the level of contact with TBI patients and substance use, followed by more open questions to encourage reflection on service needs and barriers. Using a content analysis methodology, the interview data can be collated into a set of key themes, which assist in understanding the specific needs of this patient population.
Putting your Research to Good Use
A review of existing service structures in light of this information will reveal the extent to which the specific needs of TBI patients with substance use problems are currently being met. This information can be used to inform subsequent service development recommendations.
Finally, the allied health team may be able to identify one or two former patients from the target population who can provide input into the final recommendations based on their own experience(s). This can help to ensure that nothing important has been missed.
Conducting a service evaluation and needs analysis requires an initial investment of time and resources, however, it is a robust process for identifying end-user needs, which is important for services that rely on government funding and advocacy during the initial start-up phases.
Innovative Rehab works with health services to design and implement quality allied health programs. We facilitate needs-analyses and service evaluations in populations where recovery from chronic illness is complicated by psychosocial barriers.
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