Designing the Future Ecosystem of Care

How can design be used to improve Norway’s healthcare ecosystem?


The future of healthcare is complex and uncertain. Several interconnected obstacles, from human factors, like different cultures and ways of working, to technical hurdles, such as rigid IT infrastructures, must work together. This complexity is a shared challenge; all healthcare stakeholders and parties must collaborate and contribute to co-create a regenerative ecosystem for the future. An ecosystem that gives back more than what it takes.

Our experience shows us that working with a regenerative ecosystem lens in healthcare is crucial. A healthcare ecosystem integrates different institutions that deliver capabilities and services to co-create value for healthcare participants and their communities. It brings together actors like primary care, specialist, hospitals, psychologists, physiotherapists, and orthopaedists - interconnected systems that are part of the same value chain seen from the patient's point of view. It's also a regenerative system, meaning that the value co-created by these different actors creates a platform for value to be generated. It co-produces more resources than it takes. But to achieve this vision, you have to allow for collaboration between the different stakeholders, which is currently challenging in many cases. This can create unsatisfying, bureaucratic, and, at worst, fatal obstacles to enabling an efficient healthcare ecosystem. 

So, what is your role within the larger ecosystem? By understanding where you sit in the ecosystem, you can easier take action and co-create regenerative value for health seekers, their communities and the services and systems that will enable that. 

Why is a healthcare ecosystem lens relevant?

This lens enables you to shift from looking at individuals, products and services to how different services collaborate to shape a working healthcare ecosystem. Maintaining a broad view and systemic approach to innovation is essential as the problems are often interconnected and not isolated. Shifting the perspective to a more systemic approach will enhance your abilities to co-create better and more efficient services that will have a broader impact. And that's why it's important to use methods and approaches that nurture and cultivate better collaboration across actors and organisations.

How can design contribute to shaping the future of the healthcare ecosystem?

You may be wondering why a design consultancy is talking about ecosystems. But to make solutions that improve experiences and potentially save lives, they need to be based on a nuanced understanding of user needs, be tested with patients and next of kin, and be co-created across institutions. Design consultancies can act like an orchestra facilitator, tapping into the instruments and beats of different actors and institutions to collectively meet the needs of patients across care continuums.

We have extensive experience working with the healthcare sector using empathic design methods. We've had the pleasure of working with specialised care, looking into decreasing waiting time by 90% for patients with breast cancer in Norway and designing a helpline service for patients struggling with psychotic episodes. We've also worked with community care, creating and piloting a service for youth to support their transfer from secondary to upper secondary school, thereby reducing dropout rates, and with one of Norway's largest insurance companies looking into the future of healthcare.

Three approaches we use while working with healthcare:

  1. Looking beyond silos and bringing a holistic view: Lifting our view from small processes, technologies and services to see the interconnections between different actors, services and infrastructure to tease out ecosystem level issues.

  2. Shifting from insights to concrete actions: Building an understanding of those issues through design research, creating high level strategy, and then concretising the strategy through actions.

  3. Anchoring interventions and collaborations: By working through a co-creative and participatory design process, we involve multiple relevant stakeholders to build ownership of the strategy and actions to anchor the interventions and collaborations.

Want to learn more? Join us to co-explore and design the future ecosystem of care. Read more and sign up here.