How health tech can benefit from participatory development approaches

What is participatory development?

Participatory development means engaging community members, resident experts, and technology stakeholders in each stage of a project, including within the process of planning, goal setting, assigning of responsibility, and the sharing of results. 

Though this approach has been studied at great length in the research world, with the NIMH even developing their own program to support Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), we wanted to take it into the technology development world. 

Where Participatory Development is helpful in research

Participatory development can be especially useful in communities where there are health disparities because the frameworks recognize the importance of lived experience and consider the expertise of each community member, allowing them to partner and collaborate on projects, while also feeling a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for the outcomes.  

Translating Participatory Approaches to tech development

Translating this into the technology world may seem straightforward, but it requires a shift in the foundations of how technology is built, who can create it, and what gets created. Recognizing this, it is clear that no-code platforms can facilitate a dynamic where community members can develop their own solutions in partnership with experts, to help address the problems that are impacting them most.

No Code is the foundation that facilitates co-creation and collaboration, but true participatory development requires relationship building and a partnership between resident experts and community members.

Guiding Principles for integrating Participatory Approaches in tech development: 

As part of this relationship, we approach stakeholder engagement in projects that are focused on the community at large by integrating these key principles: 

  • Transparency--decisions are made with the participants present, and through the agreed-upon mechanism (e.g., consensus or majority vote). If community members feel that their input is not being used to drive decisions, the entire intervention will be perceived as cynical and manipulative, creating an atmosphere of distrust and discouraging further participation.
  • Respect--understanding that people have different perspectives and experiences and it is important to respect those differences of opinion--and at times agree to disagree. 
  • Power Sharing--to engage and include, especially individuals who have historically have not been a part of the conversation in the decision making. 
  • Co-leadership--formal and informal leaders have the opportunities to make substantial contributions to the project.  
  • Two-way Knowledge Exchange--each individual and group brings their own expertises--whether its lived experience or formal degrees, to equally contribute to the project. 

With this in mind, we are able to shift the dynamics of who creates and what solutions can be created. Our solutions also become more relevant and engaging, and stakeholders feel a shared sense of ownership and responsibility when using the digital tools they've built.

Written by
Text Link
No items found.