In their prioritisation of future research and development activities, companies that develop solutions for the Danish healthcare sector of 2025 are advised to consider how to:
“It is not technology for the technology’s sake; it is for the patient’s sake we are working!” (Jest, 2018)Jest, P. (2018, January 2). Peder Jest. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark
Peder Jest underlines that serving the patients is the primary purpose for the healthcare system. The development of new solutions should be centred around the users and their needs.
The users are the experts! A common challenge for development of successful solutions is lack of knowledge about the users. Investing the time and resources in identifying and understanding the needs and challenges of the future users of your solutions may be a worthwhile investment.
Erik Jylling says:
The healthcare sector is interested in solutions that match their needs and challenges.
Hal Wolf underlines:
For companies it may be relevant to look into the fields of user-centred design and -innovation, anthropology and design. These fields may offer approaches and essential tools to uncovering unrecognised needs and transforming these insights into valuable solutions.
The technological development offers many opportunities for new solutions, and there is undoubtedly a vast national and international market for healthcare solutions (Jylling, 2017)Jylling, E. (2017, December 13). Erik Jylling. Interview performed by Health Innovation Southern Denmark, however it is essential that companies and developers focus their efforts on developing solutions that address and solve the actual needs and challenges of the healthcare sector and their daily operations.
Hal Wolf goes as far as to say:
When designing new technologies it will be important to accommodate the users and design for user preferences and capabilities. John Christiansen argues that:
In other words, technologies should be adjusted to fit the capabilities of the users and not the other way around.
There is a general trend towards open innovation, in the acknowledgement that the benefits of pooling resources and knowledge allow 1 plus 1 to equal 3.
Peter Watts argues the importance of a multidisciplinary approach. He argues that companies:
Carsten Obel agrees that multidisciplinary collaboration is a good strategy:
[/iquote]“You should work together with people who have quite as different backgrounds as possible and engage in as many collaborative networks as possible, but still have the focus on the citizen and the value creation in focus” (Obel, 2017)Obel, C. (2017, December 21). Carsten Obel. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark.[/iquote]
A company should not be an island in itself but acknowledge that others may have knowledge and expertise that is worth utilising to accelerate and improve development of new innovation. Especially large corporations could benefit from collaborating with SMEs/ smaller companies to a greater extent, by e.g. auctioning their needs for small companies to develop on (Munksgaard, Johnson & Patterson, 2015)Munksgaard, K., Johnson, R. & Patterson, C. (2015). knowing me knowing you: self- and collective interests in goal development in asymmetric relationships. Indutrial Marketing Management, 48, July 2015. . This is both the fastest process as well as the most cost-effective in the long run. Both large and smaller companies can utilise their best skills, which are e.g. the enthusiasm and ideating skills of small, entrepreneurial companies and the grounded strategy and long experience of larger corporations, which also often have more conservative professions and less resources for experimentation and new thinking (Nissen, 2017)Nissen, H. (2017, November 28). Helle Nissen. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark.
Peter Watts agrees that large companies and smaller companies could benefit from collaborating:
There is a growing general interest from public partners in Scandinavia in opening up and collaborating with private partners in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Public-Private Innovation Partnerships (PPIs) etc. This openness enables companies to get access to and collaborate with the public healthcare sector (Nissen, 2017)Nissen, H. (2017, November 28). Helle Nissen. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark. Collaboration with public partners presents a significant opportunity for private companies. However, it is important that companies are aware that the healthcare system is a ‘supertanker’. Things take time; e.g. rules and regulations, particularly within public procurement, are time-consuming. Quick wins are not possible and companies should expect a long lead time from the first dialogue to a contract (Øllgaard, Riis, Boding-Jensen & Garsdal, 2016)Øllgaard, S., Riis, K., Boding-Jensen, . & Garsdal, G. (2016). 10 skarpe om at mødes – en håndbog om hvordan virksomheder samarbejder med kommuner. . This timespan may clash with the shortterm focus of many companies, particularly SMEs. Companies are advised to invest in the long term when collaborating with public partners.
The Capital Region of Denmark argues that bidding on a tender does not start with writing the bid. They advice companies to: “Communicate with the municipalities leading up to a tender and influence the process. Prioritise which tenders you want to invest in” (Øllgaard, Riis, Boding-Jensen & Garsdal, 2016)Øllgaard, S., Riis, K., Boding-Jensen, . & Garsdal, G. (2016). 10 skarpe om at mødes – en håndbog om hvordan virksomheder samarbejder med kommuner. . The primary focus and outcome of public-private collaborations is not sales/procurement. Helle Nissen argues that from a company perspective collaborations are a long-term strategy to achieve a) insights into needs and organisational structures, b) further needs-based development of a solution, and c) networks with relevant stakeholders (Nissen, 2017)Nissen, H. (2017, November 28). Helle Nissen. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark, all of which can influence future sales potential for a solution.
Fail fast, succeed sooner! A prototype is not a tool to prove that you are right. It is a tool to help you learn. User testing is an essential part of innovation processes within healthcare. Getting new insights and knowledge about stakeholders through testing and co-creation can ensure that a solution meets the user needs and demands.
The general rule of thumb is to test early, fail fast and learn cheaply. Helle Nissen recommends that companies:
Carsten Obel argues that the possibilities of testing is special and very valuable for Denmark:
John Christiansen believes that there are so many needs in the healthcare system that new solutions can address, however companies need to prepare to fail and learn, and they need to investigate the market:
Each public region in Denmark has established a ‘single-point-of-entry’ for the industry (En indgang), similar to the single-point-of-entry for organising collaboration between public and private partners that many municipalities have. These access-points are specialised in public-private collaboration and matchmaking. They have insights into which departments and health professionals may be interested in collaborating within a specific field as well as access to test facilities and clinical trials, saving companies the time-consuming task of knocking on multiple doors.
Selling solutions to the public sector can be a lengthy and complex process due to the stakeholder complexity and procurement processes. It is important to understand the value of a solution for the relevant stakeholders, and to document this value.
It is important to be aware of the direction that incentive- and payment structures are moving in Denmark and how it will affect your solution. Company business models should contain the flexibility and agility to incorporate this development. This agility is even more necessary for companies aiming to bring their solutions to international markets where the financial structures are considerably different.
Erik Jylling argues the relevance of ensuring scalability of your solution:
As previously described in Fail and Learn Early through User Testing there are many opportunities for testing solutions in a Danish context. It is, however, important to be aware that testing a solution in e.g. one hospital department with a few healthcare personnel representatives is unlikely to cover the organisational diversity across all Danish hospitals. Even less so across international hospitals.
Companies should develop solutions that incorporate appropriate flexibility to accommodate the diversity of organisational needs, nationally as well as internationally. According to Helle Nissen some “firms as a strategy choose to engage in new collaborations (Public-private partnerships) in order to improve their product or in order to adapt it to a specific context” (Nissen, 2017)Nissen, H. (2017, November 28). Helle Nissen. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark. She argues that:
Helle Nissen underlines the importance of understanding your stakeholders and procurement processes (Nissen, 2017)Nissen, H. (2017, November 28). Helle Nissen. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark. Healthcare budgets are under increasing pressure and the healthcare sector is interested in the proven value and effect of solutions.
Erik Jylling argues that:
He underlines that the healthcare sector:
This necessitates not only an understanding of the value of the solution but also evidence of this value.
Business cases and technology assessments are often required prior to a sale to a public partner. Business case processes can be both time- and resource consuming. Therefore it is relevant to consider to what extent the results, criteria, quality and validity of business case results are transferrable to other settings and customers. Companies should take into account that a public partner will usually have a primary interest in business case results for their own specific context, so it will, as a general rule, be the responsibility of the company to ensure the focus on transferability of results.
The Danish healthcare sector is mainly governed by politicians. Continuously assessing and following the political and public opinion, which is dynamic, may enable companies to utilise e.g. political waves to strategically time initiatives and communication in favour of the solution. It is also relevant to keep an eye on and utilise the many funding possibilities for innovation.
It is crucial to be aware of the importance of implementing solutions. Peder Jest underlines:
Like many others, Hal Wolf argues that implementation is much harder than the actual technology development:
Solutions that support the healthcare sector and contribute to implementation may have an advantage.
Jørgen Løkkegaard, CEO, The Danish Technological institute and Innovation Manager in Patient@home states in Mandagmorgen:
It is a common challenge in the public sector that some new solutions, which have been procured to save time and increase quality, are not fully implemented or adopted. This affects both the public sector, who do not fully realise the intended benefits of the solution, and the company, for whom the case becomes a poor reference.
It is clear that implementation is important and difficult (Wolf, 2018)Wolf, H. (2018, January 3). Hal Wolf. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark. Companies that are able and willing to support the public sector and co-create a strong implementation process for their solution are more likely to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome for all stakeholders.
“Technology overall is never the answer! In any situation. In any industry. In any moment in time. You know, technology is a component of a full answer” (Wolf, 2018)Wolf, H. (2018, January 3). Hal Wolf. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark.
Hal Wolf makes it crystal clear that technology is just one part of the puzzle; a much bigger part of that puzzle is the full service design. According to Hal Wolf the value of new solutions diminishes if the processes and culture are not changed (Wolf, 2018)Wolf, H. (2018, January 3). Hal Wolf. Interview performed by Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark. According to Christian Bason, CEO at Danish Design Center, in order to succeed companies must challenge their assumptions regarding their company and solution and take their point of departure in the user perspective as a motivating force for change (Bason, 2017)Bason, C. (2017). Service design som forandringskraft. Retrieved from http://servicedesignignition.dk/program/.
Service design is active planning and organisation of people, infrastructure, communications, media and services. Service design contributes to good coherent service experiences. It helps to read, understand and identify users’ needs and expectations so that you have a solid foundation for developing new workflows, services and products that actually work. Service design puts the user at the centre and gives you a fresh look into your own organisation, its habits and challenges (Schneider & Stickdorn, 2012)Schneider, J. & Stickdorn, M. (2012). This is Service Design Thinking. .
Designing the full solution is therefore about combining the technology and service components into an integrated solution, and Hal Wolf underlines that what matters is integration of a technology into the daily operations and workflows: