Digital Ecosystem Design for Integrated Health and Social Care in Scotland

Ecosystem Service Design

A best practice program we are developing is ‘Ecosystem Service Design’. In short this builds on Agile service design practices to work at an overall industry level of multiple collaborating organizations, ie the ecosystem.

While the growing popularity has encouraged user-centric service design, this is typically part of an Agile software development lifecycle and is limited in a couple of key ways –

  • It focuses on the output of a linear, online transaction as the Service.
  • It designs around only a single organization as the Service provider.

This is limited because no organization operates in isolation to deliver services, it invariably involves and spans across multiple organizations. ESD works at that collective level.

Platform Ecosystems

These digital ecosystems are also called ‘Platforms’.

Massive new startups like Uber taxis, Airbnb and many more are pioneering the ‘On Demand Economy’, implementing a Cloud-based On Demand Business Framework which overlays a ‘digital mesh’ across a marketplace of vendors, such as taxi drivers or travel accommodation.

The repeatable secret sauce is the Platform Business Model, described in detail through academic literature and popular business books. For example the MIT book ‘Platform Revolution‘ describes these hyper-scale disruptors like Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter et al have leveraged this model to build global digital marketplaces.

The ideal of a national platform is that this same effect can be harnessed for societal and economic needs, with scenarios like Integrated Health and Social Care ideal for its application.

Integrated Health and Social Care

In 2014 the Scottish Parliament legislated a program to achieve a wholly integrated approach to Health and Social Care. There are 31 health and social care partnerships in Scotland, and they manage almost £9 billion of health and social care resources.

It’s a perfectly fitting scenario for an Ecosystem Design approach, as literally the goal and primary challenges are all those related to the issues that arise from traditional organization models and the need to better integrate them. Most operate via rigid, top down hierarchical management and design systems to operate in silos. Audit Scotland identified how these isolated systems are the primary hurdle holding up the program.

The primary bodies needing to work together are Local Government and Healthcare, both large monolith organizations heavily regimented this way, and highlighting the nature of the challenge, they must also increasingly incorporate services from the Third Sector, a sector that is entirely opposite in nature – Lots of very small social organizations.

Audit Scotland recently published this report – Local Government in Scotland. This highlights the extensive role Local Councils have to play in achieving Integrated Health and Social Care, and the new capabilities they will have to fund.

A keynote example is North Lanarkshire, recently issuing an RFP for a digital transformation systems integrator, to deliver on their digital strategy which encapsulates the use of technologies such as data analytics, CRM, RPA, Identity, IoT and Office 365, and the transformation work to migrate to them from legacy systems.

As part of this they describe the start of their journey to achieve an integrated ecosystem:

“NLC is highly networked with other organisations – Multi-agency working is the norm. Council services – and often partners too – share a digital platform, so much of their data is shared instantly. As a result, NLC now organise around particular problems as we need to tackle them – teams are highly strategic, fluid entities that form into teams based on local needs.”

with the primary technology capability for enabling this being a new Case Management solution, one that replaces their existing legacy system.

“Standardise on a single, comprehensive case management solution that allows internal and external service requests to be tracked across the Council, regardless of entry point or line of service. This will replace the existing Lagan Case Management solution;”

Ecosystem Service Design offers a methodology and toolset for modeling these integrated digital ecosystems, the Tr3dent Transform Accelerator app.

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