DIPS Front – leading e-health provider challenging traditions

An interview with Ronny Ekren, project manager in DIPS Front

Our Bergen client, DIPS Front, is part of Kernel and is one of the leading providers of e-health solutions in Norway. We're currently working on designing a new case handling tool that puts the user's needs at the center. To learn more about this and hear their thoughts on design-driven innovation, we interviewed project manager Ronny Ekren.

For those who are not entirely familiar with DIPS Front– can you tell a bit about who you are and what you do?

DIPS Front delivers solutions for the healthcare sector (CosDoc). We’re present in 165 Norwegian municipalities and private institutions with one or more of our solutions. DIPS Front is part of the Kernel Group. Kernel is an e-health and technology company aiming to be a fast-moving spawner of e-health solutions and an accelerator of closely integrated best-of-breed solutions for the health care sector. Before we became part of Kernel, we were known as ACOS Levekår, a business area in ACOS. In addition to DIPS Front, the Kernel Group consists of the e-health companies DIPS, Extensor, and ReMin, and tech companies Deepinsight and Indico. Kernel consists of about 400 employees and expects a turnover in 2021 of about 600-650 million NOK.

Our ambition is to connect technology with societal needs. With a long-term perspective, combined with extensive experience and innovative power, we develop technology that will solve our society’s biggest challenges.”

EGGS Bergen is working together with DIPS Front. Can you tell us a bit about that project and what you’re hoping to accomplish?

“Yes, we have a new focus on creating more user-centric solutions and that focus on providing good services to citizens. To do this, we need to take a step back and reconsider the way we’ve been working until now. EGGS is helping us with this, figuring out how to create a new case handling system for municipal health and care services. It's currently a system that is very time-consuming for the caseworker to use, and it doesn’t allow for focusing on the needs of the patients.”

Do you have any tips on what to think about when working with innovation in the health and public sector?

“I think that in general, it's imperative that the whole organization is aware of, and agree on, that innovating will mean a completely new way of working. Working with design-driven innovation is different from working in a traditional project setup. You need to let go of control a bit and allow creativity and openness to new ideas and new directions to take space. We are quite a traditional organization, used to working with more traditional project management, so we’ve had to adapt. For example, we’ve learned that to define the problem we’re solving, we have to give a lot of time and space to the initial phase of the project. We define and redefine the problem as we go along, and this is a new way for us to work. Therefore, it’s important to explain and align this with everyone in the organization, to make sure people are on board.”

“(…) design-driven innovation is very different from working in a traditional project setup. You need to let go of control a bit and allow creativity and openness to new ideas and new directions to take space.”
Ronny Ekren, Project Manager at DIPS Front

What has the experience of the project been so far?

“Many people in the organisation have been interested and had a lot of questions and concerns. Now that we have passed the initial phase of problem definition and started with conceptualization, the interest has grown a lot. We get to see concrete things coming out of all the insight work that we’ve done, and that’s fascinating. People are less skeptical now and are very engaged and interested in this new way of working. For me personally, it’s been a positive experience working with a design-driven approach. I feel that it’s so much easier being creative working in this way, and I’m fascinated by seeing how chaos can be structured constructively. Working agile lets you see new solutions more clearly, and you don’t get stuck on ideas that don't work."

What are the pitfalls that should be avoided in innovation projects?

“I think perhaps the biggest mistake is to linger in your old ways of working. If you’re going to go for a design-driven innovation approach, you need to go full-on. You can’t stay in your old tracks, thinking that you can keep all your traditional project management routines. Being afraid of losing control is detrimental if you want to create something new, something innovative. You need to dare and throw yourself in headfirst.”

“Being afraid of losing control is detrimental if you want to create something new, something innovative. You need to dare and throw yourself in headfirst.”
Ronny Ekren, Project Manager at DIPS Front

What made you choose to work with designers on this project and EGGS specifically?

“It was actually due to the positive experience of working with design on another project that made us go for it in this project as well. The solution that we’re working on now is the administrative part of a system for patient handling. The previous project handled the patient journal side of the same solution, so we're now continuing in the same design-driven direction that we started with the journals. Also, DIPS Front has taken a strategic decision to develop more user-centred solutions, so involving designers and EGGS is our way of implementing this strategy.”

How do you see the role of design in health innovation?

“I think design plays an essential role. Especially as the health care sector, in many ways, is a traditional sector that is strongly influenced by how things 'have always been.' There are many fixed roles, cemented ways of working, regulations, and so on. It’s important to bring in people and methods to help us take a step back and see the bigger picture. To see new possibilities and opportunities. I think design and design methodology can facilitate this and help us discover what we can do in simpler, easier, better, and more sustainable ways. Things are changing fast in society, including in healthcare, and we need to learn how to adapt faster, be more agile to stay relevant.”

“Things are changing fast in society, including in healthcare, and we need to learn how to adapt faster, be more agile to stay relevant.”
Ronny Ekren, Project Manager at DIPS Front

What challenges do you see for the future when it comes to health services?

“There is a lack of recourses that is a significant challenge we'll need to solve—both when it comes to qualified healthcare professionals and the financial side of things. The population in Norway, and many other parts of the world, is growing and ageing, which means we'll need increased resources for health and welfare. There are tendencies to create new forms of services that are quicker but more frequent, which will demand more administrative work. For that to work, we’ll need efficient admin systems to reduce the load from administrative staff and ensure that the patient has a good experience of the service.”

And what opportunities do you see?

“There are many opportunities. The same challenges we have to solve also allow us to improve many things. Making services more efficient and easier to use, for example. That will save both money for society and health and welfare providers, and at the same time, improve the experience of people using these services. We can improve communication between different providers and different authorities. Digitalization can help increase patient security by eliminating the risk of mistakes made in manual handling and making data more reliable. In the end, making administrative processes more automated and digital can make the service experience for people more predictable and easier to understand. “

Sounds interesting?

Martine  Akselberg Hatlebrekke

Let's talk to Service Designer
Martine Akselberg Hatlebrekke
+47 930 05 350
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Mari Gloppen Hunnes

Let's talk to Senior Service Designer
Mari Gloppen Hunnes
+47 916 88 909‬
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