Complex problems may often be solved with apparently simple solutions, but in real life they need a diverse knowledge base, experimentation and co-creation. As a result, many big industry players and some public forerunners have moved towards open innovation. For example, it is great to see that the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is attending Junction, the largest hackathon in Europe, as part of an effort to get new human-centric health apps and solutions into the public health system. Another key consideration is openness in learning about new perspectives, which is a critical ingredient of transformation readiness.
I’m sure that nowadays the majority of health and social care organisations agree about the importance of collaboration. For example, collaboration with start-ups is already an on trend topic – you only have to do some Googling to see for yourself. But only a few players seem to understand what truly makes the collaboration valuable for all sides.
Collaboration should be based on shared learning and the exchange of different assets – and by assets I mean both “hard” and “soft” assets. What bigger organisations typically get from working with start-ups are creative working methods, a taste of dynamic working cultures, technological know-how or engaged users. These are assets that too few large corporations or public institutions can claim to have an overabundance of. But at the same time these larger organisations typically have higher levels of production scalability, working facilities, broader customer networks, industry know-how and, in particular, data and financial assets.
How then can we efficiently utilise these different resources and organisational assets to increase collaboration? Collaboration is sharing value across parties and moving towards a joint goal, guided by a vision and values that bring stakeholders together. The more we move from exchanging tangible assets – like financial assets or working facilities – towards intangibles – like creativity, know-how or engaged customers – the more we need an additional type of a contract. That contract is based on trust.
Trust is the new currency, fuelled by data
In the digital economy, trust is the new currency. Many of the big new companies in the world actually have one thing in common: they are in the trust business. Uber is building trust between drivers and people looking for a ride. Airbnb is connecting empty rooms and homes with people looking for a place to stay. The same applies to healthcare, especially as data is becoming the fuel for healthcare innovations and more personalised, preventive care.
In particular, when we talk about sensitive areas such as health or social issues it’s not insignificant who collects, controls, uses or sees your data. When data flows are designed properly and privacy issues are the main priority, data can build trust, enable action and collaboration and eventually build partnerships that grow out of the scope of formal contracts. For example, the high level of trust and the stability of society were key reasons why IBM recently decided to start developing its artificial intelligence solutions for healthcare in Finland.
A digital transformation in healthcare requires partnerships and co-creation between organisations, but also with customers as well. And as partnerships are built on trust, we need to understand the value of intangibles and how to manage these “soft assets”. Openness, co-creation and experimentation help us to find stakeholders with shared goals and learn a similar language with which to work. Data could be the critical fuel for building trust, accelerating innovation and improving health services. But if used poorly, it could become the fuel for burning bridges and creating new, even more entrenched silos.
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