How to go beyond
pilots and scale up
digital health care services?

Health care decision makers are keen on digitalizing health care services but they end up struggling with poor scale-up of digital services. What would be the cure?

Cure would be building services up on process commonalities and creating a package of eHealth development program, common tools and cloud based IT platform. With these remedies, Helsinki University Hospital was able to create and scale up digital digital services to over 100 patient groups within one year. Health Village was born and it keeps on growing in the pace that nobody would have anticipated.

-Health Village is not only an IT platform or a digital toolbox. Change management, tools to build hybrid paths consisting of both face-to-face and digital services are essential, says Visa Honkanen, Director of Strategic development, Helsinki University Hospital.

Quick scalability

Most healthcare digitalization initiatives face the difficulty of scaling up new services beyond pretty prototypes or small-scale pilots. Scaling is difficult over two dimensions; 1) how to mainstream and scale-up a new solution within a clinical domain to all users including those who are not early adopters and really need to make an effort to adopt new ways of working; 2) how to benefit common models, tools and technical infrastructure across clinical domains and patient groups.

Overcoming the 1st difficulty is generic change management and implementation challenge. The key success factor for this is that in Health Village, clinicians who use the service are driving the development of new digital services. IT department provides a development framework, support and tools. This provides ownership to the clinicians that helps in adoption and acceptance during wider deployment of new solutions.

New approaches to the working practices, management, expertise and processes within the clinic must be developed and implemented together with the digital solutions.

– Health Village includes a systematic eHealth Services development program providing standardized methods and tools for development work and service design. E.g. Starting point of planning the digital services in Health Village is clinicians drawing their current work processes and planning how to improve them. Also patients are engaged to the process, states Sirpa Arvonen, eHealth Development Lead, HUS IT.

Building up on commonalities

Most healthcare digitalization initiatives are targeted to a specific clinical domain or group of patients, which makes the solutions difficult to scale.  While a lot of clinical care is patient group specific, Health Village builds on the fact that most of the clinical work follows similar workflows and there are similarities in patient processes across clinical domains. They contain alike activities and patient encounters e.g. appointments, controls, diagnostics and examinations.

The Health Village concept builds on these commonalities, which makes it possible to efficiently create and take into use new digital services in virtually any clinical domain within a healthcare organization.

Health Village

·       Patient education, care pathways and digital tools for professionals.

·       EHealth Development program

Data that accumulates through Health Village, is a goldmine for research, development and quality improvement activities.

***

The blog post was written by Pekka Kahri, Technology Officer, HUS Helsinki University Hospital

www.hus.fi