Bees and Butterflies in a Living Lab

Bees and Butterflies in a Living Lab

Parent Pollinators Engaging in Preemie Innovation. The 3 Cs: CrowdIdeas, Co-creation and Collaboration 

Living Labs

Our Baby Living Lab is a virtual meeting point to co-create, crowdsource ideas and solutions from different people and organizations who share a common goal to improve neonatal healthcare.

So what is a Living Lab? It's a relatively new concept that started in Europe and we co-opted for our neonatal initiative. In short, multi-stakeholders form public-private-people partnerships (4Ps) and collaborate to create, prototype, validate and test new ideas (products or service) to solve real problems in a real-life context. The problem or “unmet need” may range from how to let seniors age in place in our communities to building smarter cities. Collaboration sustains a living lab and fuels the innovation process.

Baby Living Lab is our space to cross-pollinate ideas across the complex neonatal ecosystem with input from parents, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals, industry, and other solvers.  

Co-creation changes the game of innovation from designing for people to designing with people.

Collective Wisdom of Parents

Product and service designers have been moving closer to the future users of what they design. Today, the best products reaching the market are the fruit of collaboration and co-design with end users.

Co-creation is finally reaching the healthcare sector as well. Patient experience now matters, but you can only know how to design the best patient experience by including patients and caretakers into the creation process. Parents of preemies are no longer passive recipients of medical services for their babies but active partners and co-producers of their baby’s own healthcare. Family centered care (FCC) is a good example, embraced and implemented in many NICUs, where parents contribute to medical decision-making and actively help in the healing process in collaboration with healthcare providers. 

The challenge now is how to effectively use and leverage this knowledge and insight to improve preemie healthcare. Co-creation and tapping into the collective wisdom of parents will be critical to improve neonatal care. 

The COIN project: Core Outcomes In Neonatology

We have been tracking new initiatives around the world to find successful examples of co-creation projects in the field of neonatology. This week we were pleasantly surprised to find a very promising initiative called neoEPOCH, spearheaded by a group of experts from the prestigious Imperial College in London and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital - NHS Foundation Trust. 

neoEPOCH embodies what we see as the best in co-creation, crowdideas and collaboration. Their goal is simple to work with ALL of the stakeholders - parents, patients and health professionals - to improve neonatal research and care. 

The importance of this research initiative cannot be understated. The COIN project: Core Outcomes in Neonatology goes to the root of the problem blocking much neonatal innovation – what are the most relevant and important unmet health needs for premature babies.

Healthcare professionals focus on saving the lives of preemies and do an amazing job. They are the designers of clinical studies that determine what treatments, medical devices and medications will best serve this fragile population. These clinical studies look at an outcome, such as 'going home on oxygen' or 'needing surgery for necrotising enterocolitis'.  The right outcome will provide evidence to support a change in clinical practice, or potentially a new life-saving device or drug therapy. 

Yet, to date no one has asked large groups of parents and patients which neonatal outcomes are most important to them, this means that most neonatal research probably does not measure outcomes that are important to parents and patients. 

The COIN project's goal is to collect and identify which outcomes of neonatal care are most important to all of the key stakeholders: parents; preemies later in life; healthcare professionals (neonatologists, nurses, etc.); and researchers. 

As the COIN video explains, you cannot compare apples to oranges in clinical study outcomes.  We need a core set of outcomes that everyone agrees to focus on and then study.

We LOVE the goals of this project!

Imagine what could be achieved with a CORE OUTCOME SET whenever neonatal research is done! A major roadblock to neonatal innovation stems from a lack of quality clinical studies and an insufficient number of such studies. More focused and reliable studies will help support greater innovation. Often the unmet needs for neonates (and in pediatrics in general) are not seen as justified in comparison to the adult market, a consensus would add weight and perhaps incentivize industry from both small entrepreneurs and multinationals to develop more medical technology or drug therapies. Last, we think this approach may help reduce costs and mitigate risks across institutions when they embark on new clinical research studies. If a hospital or research group knew that it could add its outcomes to the community pot, this may help the internal approval process. We can only hope for such benefits. The current process is clearly not working or fast enough to get new innovative solutions to preemies. 

Become a Pollinator for Neonatal Innovation


We urge you to go the COIN website and share your insights.

Pay it forward with your input.  


Parents as pollinators like bees and butterflies, can lay the foundation for the growth and cultivation of ideas in neonatal healthcare.
Updating parents on neonatal units: “you can also log on to the app!”

Updating parents on neonatal units: “you can also log on to the app!”

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Happy Valentine's Day