Time is running out in health care – we need to solve the right problems the right way

Key takeaways from EHiN 2021

This year’s EHiN (E-health in Norway) conference displayed a clear focus on the urgency of innovative solutions to secure the quality of health care and health services in the future. But our Head of Health, Sigrun Vik, who gave a talk on design-driven innovation, reminds us that it's crucial to also keep the focus on people. If not, we won't develop the right solutions in time. We have no time left to make mistakes.

After attending EHiN 2021, I’m back to work with lots of inspiration and feeling energised to dive into new health innovation projects. But, I’m also left with a burning sensation of urgency. A well-functioning future Norwegian health care system requires that we get things right – fast.

We need to get it right – not ‘almost’ right

Innovative thinking, focusing on e-health solutions, and tech development are great, but we need to ensure that we’re finding the right answers to the right problems. We can’t afford to spend time and resources to create tools and solutions that ‘almost’ hit the target. We need a healthcare system that can handle the pressure of an ageing and growing population while delivering quality services. How do we do this? With the help of design-driven innovation. Using design methodologies can ensure that we solve the right problems and don’t waste time on the wrong ones. We will create solutions that are desirable, viable, and feasible.

"We can’t afford to spend time and resources to create tools and solutions that ‘almost’ hit the target."
Sigrun Vik, Head of Health, EGGS Design

Norway’s new health minister, Ingvild Kjerkhol, emphasized the importance of using innovative e-health to solve the problems in healthcare. Innovation is central to solving these problems, but we need to use design-driven innovation to ensure we’re solving the right problems. (Image credits: Ard Jongsma / Still Words Photography)

We can’t afford not to put people at the centre

Hearing our health minister Ingvild Kjerhol’s opening speech at the conference made me hopeful that the Norwegian government has ambitious plans for e-health. There is a significant focus on using innovative and iterative processes for development and implementation to create holistic and seamless solutions. That sounds a lot like agile innovation to me – and that's fantastic! However, in her speech, there was little talk about people. Where are the patients, their relatives, and the health workers in this? Digitalisation is necessary and an answer to many of our problems, but we cannot afford not to put people at the centre when we innovate. Health care is for and about people. Hence, digitalisation in the health care sector is also about people first and foremost.

"Digitalisation is necessary and an answer to many of our problems, but we cannot afford not to put people at the centre(...)."
Sigrun Vik, Head of Health, EGGS Design

Untapped potential in health data

Another theme that received a lot of attention at the EHiN conference was the use of health data. There is enormous untapped potential in unused data – both for improving patient treatment and increasing patient safety, but also for creating smarter and more effective services. We have started this process, but we still have a long way to go as a society. If we manage to use data right without wasting resources in manual processing of it, we can change how we work and how we deliver services in a way that will have a significant impact.

Overall, the field of health care is a complex one with many stakeholders and complex ecosystems. There are no easy solutions. And it's clear to me that we're moving in the right direction when it comes to health and innovation. However, we do need to speed things up. There's no time to spare – we need to get everybody onboard to create solutions for what matters - people.

Sounds interesting?

Sigrun Vik

You should talk to Head of Health
Sigrun Vik
+47 922 33 887
Email

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