Who Cares Where?: A Pivotal Ethnographic Study for Italian Hospital Homecare

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The case study presented is an in-depth view on the project “Casa nel Parco” (translated as “the House in the Park”), a three-year, European-funded project (ERDF Funds 2014-2020) in the Italian region of Piedmont that involves 4 hospitals, 2 large companies, 14 small-medium enterprises, 2 universities, and 2 private research centers. The goal is to research and innovate hospital-homecare services for elderly and ALS patients, as well as their caregivers, through the implementation of e-health solutions. The uniqueness of our case study lays on the fact that our ethnographic work was pivotal in shifting the narrative of closed hospital ecosystems (Goffman 1961); where those outside of the hospital environment are not viewed as credible or essential sources for improving the care system. In this study we share how we built trust and negotiated a complex network of stakeholders and technical systems to successfully influence the design of homecare services. Ethnography played a major role in identifying user requirements (patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals) and in building scenarios for product and service prototype development, technology adaptation, and testing. In this way, ethnography and design were used as holistic and critical approaches to addressing health challenges and change. Successful implementation could therefore be considered as a socio-technical design challenge, rather than a pure technological design challenge, emphasizing a non-conflationary approach in which the social and the material are held apart for the purpose of exploring their interplay (Mutch, 2013). The key success that ethnography brought was in identifying how technical systems that were designed in the abstract could be used for the very real and specific problems faced by the elderly and ALS patients needing homecare.

Keywords: hospitals, ethnography for technology, EU-funded project

Article citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings pp 78–84, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic

Pages: 1 2

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