Digitization focus for innovation conference

Many of the opportunities and challenges that the healthcare sector of tomorrow is facing can be related to digitization. Last Friday, a number of scientists, practioners and business representatives gathered at Halmstad University for a conference on the topic of health innovation and digitization.

Jens Nygren, Professor of Health Innovation at Halmstad University, says that in the future, people’s meeting with the healthcare sector will, at an increasing rate, be digital. In order to manage that transition, new knowledge that can act as a support in the changing of processes, roles, professions and organisations, both within the business sector and the public sector, is needed. A very important key to success is, according to Nygren, cooperation between different sectors. That was also one of the guiding principles when deciding what lecturers to invite to the conference.

”The idea was to have a good mix. We wanted speakers who would talk about digitization from different perspectives. In that way, it becomes obvious what kind of excellence is needed to be able to accept the challenge, but also the fact that the issue has to be seen from different perspectives. In order to succeed, cooperation is a must”, says Jens Nygren.

Health Innovation – a University-wide profile

Health Innovation is one of two university-wide profile areas at Halmstad University. It is a profile area of interdisciplinary education and research that addresses health challenges through trans-disciplinary and value-creating research and education in collaboration with stakeholders in society. Nygren stresses the connection between the profile area and the conference.

”Digitization within the welfare sector poses both a great challenge and a great opportunity within the area of health innovation. It is possible to paint both dystopic and utopic scenarios. When working with health innovation, it is important that we meet representatives from the community in order to learn what these challenges and opportunities mean to them”, says Jens Nygren.

An Eldebee in your pocket

The dystopian and utopian scenarios that Nygren speaks of were also the topic of the conference’s opening lecture, held by Edward Ashford Lee, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at University of California, Berkeley, USA. Lee spoke about the way that mankind develops in interplay with technology. His lecture departed from the question: “Is humanity defining technology or is technology defining humanity?” Lee also introduced the audience to the concept of “Eldebees”, which is Lee’s term for technology that possesses human qualities, for instance smartphones.

Research that promotes patient participation

One of the speakers was Petra Svedberg, Professor of Nursing at Halmstad University. Her research is focused on the development of knowledge and methods that enable patient participation in healthcare. At the Innovation conference, she spoke about how digital support for decisions can be used in order to facilitate patient participation among children.

”Within the healthcare sector, the need for digital tools that are adapted for children is well defined. The requests create a demand for digitised healthcare. Today, there are no satisfying methods for children to communicate their wants and needs. One part of the problem is that the methods which are in use often depart from an adult perspective. Most digital support for decisions are focused on what the healthcare professional needs to know, as opposed to what the patient needs to communicate. I order to develop digital support for decisions for children, we need to cooperate with the target audience. An adult perspective can never replace the quality that comes with the engagement of children”, says Petra Svedberg.

Innovation that does good

Mattias Skoog, digital strategist at Region Halland, was one of the about 200 attendants at the conference. He thought that it was both interesting and inspiring to take part of the initiatives and projects that were presented during the conference. He also stressed the importance of cooperation and of learning from each other.

”This is a good opportunity to take part of experiences from other organisations, and to reflect over what methods that give the best effect. What good can digital innovation do, and how can it make our society more accessible, less complex and more including? Doing things in a new way can’t be a goal in itself. We have to make digital investments that will make people’s lives bot easier and better. If we can do that, we are on the right track”, says Mattias Skoog.

Text: Christa Amnell
Photo: Ida Fridvall