Putting citizens and patients first in public sector service design


Written by Filipa Costa, Service Designer, Mace & Menter

Filipa Costa tells us more about her role with service design specialists Mace & Menter, as it expands its innovative work with the NHS to help improve the way people experience healthcare.

I’m a Service Designer with a background in renewable energy and sustainability. I came to work at Mace & Menter because I wanted to work on meaningful projects that create a positive impact on our society.

Before joining Mace & Menter, I worked for the Portuguese Government at LabX – Experimentation Lab for Public Administration. This was a new multi-disciplinary team focusing on designing public services around user needs and spreading this way of working across the sector. 

At LabX we delivered innovative work around the way citizens interact with government. In Portugal, people often come to a physical space to interact with public services. We looked at ways the spaces and services could be designed that integrated digital and physical experiences to meet user needs.

We also had a focus on health services and developed an innovative new user-centred process to create the Portuguese Ministry of Health Strategic Plan.

At Mace & Menter, I have been working with the NHS to explore the patient experience of interacting with primary care. It’s been fascinating to see how much value we can add by combining our way of working with NHS domain expertise to really dig into ways we might improve experiences.

My work tends to be roughly 50% research and 50% design. We focus on deeply understanding user needs so we can be confident we’re designing the right service in the right way.


Breaking down barriers with a hands-on team

When I worked inside government, collaboration could be quite difficult at times because I was working with so many different departments and things can move so slowly. 

With Mace & Menter’s agile hands-on team, we help remove those barriers and get stuff done, in a much shorter timeframe. We’ve delivered projects in weeks that would have taken six months or more in government. 

I believe people make companies great, and I am grateful to be working among such incredible people who genuinely want to have a positive impact. 

Besides this, Mace & Menter absolutely want to see you succeed and support you to do so. We have a coaching programme and a dedicated budget to spend on what we need to improve our professional skills. And our ‘random acts of kindness’ budget means that if a colleague does a great piece of work or goes beyond the call of duty, we can buy them a gift and expense it.


Creating a more user-centred future

During the pandemic, we saw how our public services had to quickly adapt for digital use. Now, and during the months ahead, there is a huge amount of work to be done to rethink and improve these services in a more user-centred way.

I’m currently scoping a project exploring public spaces in Bristol as well as more work around the way people interact with their GPs for the NHS. I’m looking forward to working on more projects that make a tangible difference to people’s lives. 

I know that Mace & Menter will continue to seek out this type of work, because it is at the heart of what we do and why we do it!

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