Estonia initiates pan-Nordic project for designing health services for hospitals

The Estonian Academy of Arts Department of Product Design together with the Estonian health technology cluster Connected Health launched a new EUR 123 000 health innovation project, Co-Designing Healthcare, to create patient centered health services for hospitals in the Nordic area.

Maarja Mõtus, the head of the product design department of the Estonian Academy of Arts (EAA) said that service designers help the hospitals to create health services that meet the needs of both patients as well as employees. “EAA has high level of know-how in service design but there is still a long way to go in terms of implementing it in health innovation,” she said. “Involving designers in the very beginning of the process helps to reduce costs in the long term. For instance, time invested in educating patients with chronic diseases will be returned later through more knowledgeable patients,” Mõtus added. Some of the hospitals in Scandinavia have whole teams of designers that are responsible for making the services more patient friendly.

Kitty Kubo, the innovation lead at the Connected Health Cluster managed by Tehnopol refers to a recent European study, which showed that the largest client of service design is the public sector, and in that, the healthcare sector. Kubo says: “In the other developed countries healthcare has already discovered the value of service design, but in Estonia the process of unlocking this potential is still ahead. Connected Health Cluster has been offering a platform for hospitals and health technology companies for co-creation of innovative digital health solutions already for three years and can accelerate this process,” she added.

On 12 November, the Estonian Academy of Arts hosted “Service design in Healthcare” seminar as the kick-off event for this large international project. At the event, project partners from the North Estonian Medical Centre, the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and the Lapland Central Hospital, as well as design experts from the EAA, the Sahlgrenska School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the University of Lapland shared their experiences with nearly 80 attendees interested in healthcare service design.

As the first step of the project, the parties selected three problem areas to be solved by the Estonian-Finnish-Swedish teams at a 5-day design sprint in spring 2019:

how to better prepare patients and doctors to maximize quality time at the appointment; how to support patients’ and doctors’ navigation in the hospital and in the healthcare system; and how to encourage patients to help their peers by sharing their experiences, and how to empower healthcare providers to advise patients.

Co-Designing Healthcare is made possible through the generous support of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ cross-sector programme Nordplus Horizontal (NPHZ-2018/10108), and EAA Creative Cluster – the Estonian study and research centre for visual and spatial culture – delivered through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).