When the coronavirus pandemic struck, the Swedish health and welfare system was challenged to quickly modify and digitalise its operations. In collaboration with several organisations and authorities, RISE launched the website digitalvardochomsorg.se in record time. The purpose of the website is to compile knowledge about the digitalisation of health and welfare in order to support municipalities in their digitalisation efforts.
“The work to digitalise health and welfare has been going on for a while, but the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the need and accelerated development,” says Ann-Sofie Mårtensson, digital health expert at RISE. “To provide assistance with the rapid digitalisation currently taking place in health and welfare, we have developed this website to provide both support and inspiration.”
The website offers concrete support to social services in municipalities in the form of digital tools and checklists, and it is also a source of inspiration and an arena for collaboration between different operators in the health and welfare system. The site will provide support to municipalities in their digitalisation efforts and serve as a compass and directory for relevant information. Visiting the site once a week will enable operators to keep track of developments and what they need to consider.
“What is unique about the website is that we, as a neutral party, have had the opportunity to bring together both public and market stakeholders in the same place, something that is appreciated,” says Maria Gill, Project Manager at RISE. “We entered the project with the mind-set that ‘sharing is learning’.”
Sharing is learning
Wide range of content
Although the site has only been around a short time, it has quickly attracted many visitors. The published material has been downloaded frequently – although only modest effort has been made so far to promote the content.
“Since the material is supplemented continuously, our strategy since the launch has been to spread the material in diverse channels by means of constant, minor activities instead of a huge launch,” explains Mårtensson.
The website includes everything from a checklist for procurement to videos showing how one municipality works with digitalisation, how a municipality switched to digital purchasing, and how to work with value realisation. The site also provides inspiration for utilising welfare technology to increase independence and participation among different inhabitants as well as a summary of the different forms of support provided by various government agencies. Simple and concrete are the guiding watchwords.
The reason the content is being widely disseminated is that different municipalities are in different phases and have different possibilities. The municipalities need to keep track of information from a range of government agencies, and the site allows them to find much of the information at a single place.
RISE runs the website together with the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, the Swedish eHealth Agency, the Swedish Agency for Participation, SALAR, the Association of Swedish Social Managers, the Swedish National Agency for Public Procurement, The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, The Swedish IT and Telecom Industries, Swedish Medtech and Medtech4health and it is co-funded by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.
Links to specific materials complied by the collaborators to meet the new challenge can be found at this site. A database called Utbudsplatsen is also available. It is a search database for finding suppliers of various digital products and services geared towards health and welfare.
The coronavirus pandemic is also driving collaboration aimed at innovation’
Collaborating to use our resources wisely
The digitalisation of the health welfare system means that collaboration between municipalities and other actors will be crucial. In this, both Maria Gill and Ann-Sofie Mårtensson hope that digitalvardochomsorg.se will be able to serve as a collaboration area.
“Interaction between municipalities has become more and more common,” says Mårtensson, “and digitalisation means that municipalities do not have to limit themselves to interacting in their geographical vicinity, but can look at other similarities such as the structure of the population, for example. We hope that the website will become a place where you find each other by reading about all the initiatives being carried out in social services, to tell outsiders about them and to set up collaboration.”
It is also hoped that the website will be a way for municipalities to benefit from things developed elsewhere, thereby building on each other’s experiences.
“The coronavirus pandemic is also driving collaboration around innovation,” says Gill. There is a strong drive to protect tax money in municipalities, to reuse tax money over and over again instead of developing something of their own at all cost. We hope to support this development further with the help of digitalvardochomsorg.se.”
Digitalisation is here to stay
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated the need for digitisation of health and welfare, it does not mean that the business will be able to fall back into previous habits and routines when the pandemic is over. According to Gill, the digital solutions and working methods being introduced now will establish themselves as the new normal.
“There are several reasons why what we are seeing now is the beginning of a permanent transition. There are not, and will not be, enough hands available to continue working as before. In addition, citizens will demand that the digital solutions developed and offered now should also be available after the pandemic. This website serves as a tool for municipalities to work differently and adapt their work methods to the digitalisation.