The welfare sector must be developed through collaboration with the business community
Regions and municipalities cannot meet the challenges on the healthcare area themselves - private companies and knowledge institutions must provide assistance. Cooperation between the public sector and the business community is necessary in order to maintain and develop the Danish welfare system. Several stakeholders in the healthcare sector believe so.
Good collaboration is required to maintain welfare in Denmark. Hospitals and municipalities, together with the business community and universities, need to be able to develop solutions that can improve treatment, quality of life and care. The path to developing the Danish healthcare system is public-private innovation collaboration - also called OPI. This is the opinion of Welfare Tech, among others, that manages the digital OPIguide.dk, which has between 1,000 and 2,000 page displays every single month. The guide helps companies, public organisations and knowledge institutions to have success with public-private innovation collaboration.
- If we are to meet the many challenges the healthcare sector is facing, it is necessary to have more collaboration across the public sector, the companies and the educational institutions. OPI is an advantageous way in which to develop welfare in Denmark because we have a strong public sector which provides the majority of the care and healthcare offers together with the private general practitioners. The healthcare sector also needs new knowledge in order to develop the service level, explains Welfare Tech's deputy director, Søren Parmar-Sielemann.
Welfare Tech is a business cluster where 200 private and public stakeholders collaborate on the development of welfare technology.
External partners play an important role in public sector innovation. According to the Centre for Public Innovation, 79% of the public innovations have occurred in collaboration with external partners.
Users and developers must collaborate
Aabenraa Municipality has participated in a number of OPI projects within, e.g. the elderly area and the municipality has good experiences of involving citizens and employees when new methods and solutions are to be developed together with private companies. Karen Storgaard Larsen, director for Social & Sundhed (Social & Health), Aabenraa Municipality explains:
- When we co-develop new technology in Aabenraa Municipality, there are two aspects that are crucial to our creating actual and lasting value. The one aspect is that citizens and employees play a key role in the development process together with innovative companies. The best solutions are achieved when developers and users work together in the reality where the solutions are to be used. The second aspect is that the companies' new products, in themselves, create value. The value comes about when the new solutions make sense and are used in the citizens' and employees' daily lives, tells Karen Storgaard Larsen.
OPI gives soft values
Figures from the Centre for Public Innovation show that there is a 76% probability of higher quality if public innovation takes place together with a company. If the public sector collaborates with a knowledge institution, the probability for higher quality is 79%.
Lena Brogaard, lecturer at RUC has analysed and evaluted the benefits of OPI projects in the welfare sector. She has studied 260 Danish innovation projects and she is a little surprised about the many soft values and benefits in the short term, which OPI projects add to the participants.
- More than half of the companies, regions and municipalities that have responded to the survey, have gained new knowledge by being part of an OPI project. For example, OPI can give the companies knowledge about needs and operations in the public sector and a project can also be an entry point to a public sector customer, which would otherwise be difficult to get into contact with. Moreover, the successful collaboration provides a validation of the company's products. On the other hand, the public parties can learn more about the technological potential, for example, and in some cases this leads on from one project to more, says Lene Brogaard.
She predicts that in the future there will be even more focus on how OPI projects achieve success. Among other things, she assesses that there will be additional needs for the scaling of the developed solutions so they can be used in more municipalities or at more hospitals, for example.
Denmark is a good test country
The public-private collaboration has good conditions in Denmark.
- We have a great demand from companies that want support to develop technological solutions for the healthcare and care sector. Among others, we manage the South Denmark OPI pool and the project VIND - Welfare Innovation with Useful Data, which builds on public-private innovation. Almost a third of the country's municipalities are members of Welfare Tech and even more have participated in testing new solutions in our OPI events, says Søren Parmar-Sielemann.
- 79% of the public innovations have occurred in collaboration with one or more external partners.
- There is a 76% probability of higher quality if public innovation takes place in collaboration with an external company.
- There is a 79% probability of higher quality if public innovation takes place together with a knowledge institution.
Source: Center for Offentlig Innovation, coi.dk
The article was published in Greater Copenhagen Life Science Yearbook.