CoHeWe: Co-creation and companies’ solutions for the needs of the health and social services

Photo: Opa Latvala

The main objective of CoHeWe (a 6Aika project) has been to develop cooperation between the public health care services and companies. The project has successfully combined the practical needs of the health and social services professionals and the companies’ know-how.

The preparations for the Co-created Health and Wellbeing (CoHeWe) project started when it was noted how difficult it was, particularly for small and new businesses, to enter into cooperation with the public health care services. Without references and a completed, CE marked product, businesses are not able to proceed, even though they would have such know-how that could solve challenges in the public health care services in new ways.

– Lowering the threshold for co-creation was – both from the perspective of the Cities and businesses – a key objective in the project. In addition, impact assessment was also included in the project, summarises Niko Lönn, Project Manager from Tampere University Hospital (Tays).

Consequently, such businesses were selected as co-creation partners that were not, necessarily, able to offer a completed product but, instead, they had a capability to develop a solution that would also be smoothly scalable for the use of other cities. Competence is required in converting the needs of the health and social services into a challenge that can be grabbed by businesses.

– Challenges must not be specified in too much detail, if you expect that businesses come up with out of the box solutions. In an ideal case, this provides good opportunities for new, innovative businesses, Lönn says.

Initiatives for experiments stem from the daily life of health and social services professionals

From the perspective of the Cities, one practical difficulty in co-creation lies in the fact that the job descriptions of many health and social services professionals are 100 per cent care work – i.e., no development work has been resourced to their daily work. The CoHeWe experiments have had a fairly small scale, which is why it has been easy to test them in practice. Light experiments also provide a better opportunity to participate with an open mind and an investigating approach: even though an experiment would not, right away, prove to be useful – measured with money – it will always teach us something.

– Co-creation began because there was a genuine need for it in the field, says Tiina Hult, Project Manager at the City of Tampere.

The project has used several methods, in accordance with the needs of the field. Hult says that in Tampere, project participants visited units that take care of senior citizens and they collected customer stories that shed light on the different sides of the lives of the senior citizens. This way, it was easier to ask for solution proposals from companies and then present them to professionals.

Thematic workshops and surveys have also raised matters to be developed and experimented. Sometimes it is not necessary to pose questions, as some unit superiors have asked whether their units can participate in the project, as they need development work.

Making health and social services professionals committed to experiments has been of utmost importance. The clear operating model that has been developed in the project is helpful in this, as by using the operating model, it is possible to show the professionals how the experiment progresses and what their role is in it.

– It is decisive that professionals have, right from the beginning, an opportunity to influence the experiment and participate in it. This creates enthusiasm and commitment, Hult says.

Digitalisation of the remote monitoring of patients’ weight

What kind of an experiment was this in practice? For example, the remote monitoring of weight of patients with a heart failure: weight gain is a sign of fluids building up in their bodies. At this point, there should be an intervention by medical personnel. Traditionally, patients have written the measurement data on a card, but this way, the data is not transferred to medical personnel very quickly. If the patient is at home too long, he or she may have to stay at hospital for weeks.

A company that was able to adjust ordinary scales in a way that it could function as a remote monitoring tool participated in the CoHeWe project. I.e., the company was able to transfer the weight data digitally – straight from a patient’s home – to professionals. This way, it was possible to carry out an intervention without delay, when necessary. There was a small-scaled experiment of the system in 2019, and the intention is to expand the experiments amongst the City of Tampere and Tays Heart Hospital.

It is too early to say how much remote monitoring could save money but, in any case, many things were learned in the experiment. The experiment assessed the usability of the system, the saving of working time, as well as the cooperation between specialised health care and primary health care.

– At the end of the day, the purpose is always to develop new, better and more cost-effective health care services for customers, Lönn summarises.

A shared operating model and guide for the developers of health and social services

At the beginning of the CoHeWe project, the participants discussed the forming of challenges and all other phases of co-creation – together with its project partners, CoHeWe co-created an operating model in order to make the project measures clear, comparable and scalable. The project was coordinated by Tampere University Hospital, and it was participated by Forum Virium Helsinki, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, City of Oulu, University of Oulu, City of Tampere and City of Vantaa.

The outcome of the project is a guide for the development of health and social services. The guide presents the models for activities and experiments. One of the largest achievements in the project is that the models that have been taken into use, proved to be practical, and they have been scaled for the use of all four Cities. Co-creation has become familiar, and the health and social services professionals in Tampere can also utilise it in future development projects.

The Co-Created Health and Wellbeing (CoHeWe) project – 1 August 2018–31 December 2020

Niko Lönn acted as the project manager of the CoHeWe project at the Tampere University Hospital (Tays). Tays was the main implementer of the project.

Tiina Hult was the project manager of CoHeWe at the City of Tampere.

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