D-Think Health Course: learning how to innovate effectively within two weeks

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‘Thanks to our course GGZ Delfland has implemented VR successfully.’

How does one implement innovation in Health care? It is a challenge for many organizations. In the D-Think Health Course participants learn how to innovate effectively through design thinking. “After only two weeks you understand how to apply innovations effectively,” says teacher Tessa Souhoka. The next series of courses starts in March 2022.

Learning how to innovate effectively within two weeks? The D-Think Health Course proves it can be done. And you do not even need to go to school for it. Participants follow a two-day online course, one at the beginning and one at the end of the series. In between they follow a short online training of approximately 15 minutes a day. “After only two weeks one understands how to apply innovations effectively within an organization. This is the feedback we get from our participants,” says Tessa Souhoka.

Studenten aan het werk

Gap between theory and practice

Tessa is one of the teachers of the online course. In 2016 she finished her Master Integrated Product Design at the Delft University of Technology. Immediately afterwards she started her own company,  Productzaken where as a healthcare designer she transforms scientific knowledge to actual products. In 2017 the Delft University of Technology asked Tessa to teach a course in patient journey mapping. “The course was meant to make the participants better understand the patient who needs their care.” says Tessa. “Many participants asked for a second course as they wanted to do something practical with the things they had just learned. We discovered a gap between theory and practice and we wanted to bridge it.”

How D-Think Health began

This resulted in the idea for the D-Think Health Course. On behalf of the Delft University of Technology, Tessa and professor Richard Goossens of the Industrial Design faculty joined forces with Karolinska institute, the Medical University of Sweden, and the university of Coimbra in Portugal. Subsidized by EIT Health these knowledge institutes laid the basis for the course. From over 200 design thinking tools they chose sixteen that agreed most with the challenges in health care. “This is what distinguishes us from many other design think courses,” says Tessa. “We understand the challenges of this sector and we have fully directed our tools towards them. Furthermore we use those tools that help us get the people on our side, because winning over the audience is rather a challenge too in implementing innovation. 

From discover to deliver

Prior to the course, participants get a special D-Think toolbox which contains, among others a set of cards that make one walk through the entire procedure in just 20 steps. For example, one is asked to think about who may be the stakeholders. Also, the patient journey, mentioned before, plays a part; one of the tools is a friction card which shows the problems in this patient journey. The twenty steps have been divided over four standard stages of innovation, ” Tessa explains. Every stage includes a workshop day. “The first stage is called Discover. Participants find out how much room for innovation there actually is within their organization and they are to look at the problem from every angle. In the Define stage the participants learn to define the need for innovation as well as give a sharp definition of the problem. Via the Develop and Deliver stages we then arrive at the ultimate solution. This could be an actual product, but it could also be a process or a policy document that needs to be improved according to these rules.”

Studenten aan het werk

The primary stages are too often neglected

“Many innovations fail because the primary stages have been skipped,” Tessa continues. “The product is taken as a starting point, but how can you be sure about the answer if you do not fully understand the problem? Those first two stages make sure that you will design the correct solution. We say: “Designing the right thing leads to designing things right in stages three and four. So in order to be able to design the correct answer, you make the right decisions at the right time. We, at D-think health, provide the cases, but participants are also welcome to bring their own.

A story of success, GGZ Delfland

Tessa gives an example: “Some years ago GGZ Delfland invested a large sum in virtual reality equipment. Their specialists were to use VR in treating their patients. However, the specialists did not succeed in implementing the equipment correctly on the ward which meant that these expensive instruments were gathering dust. To solve the problem, a GGZ Delfland team joined our course. Our approach forced them to return to the basis and they had to admit that their strategy implementation for using VR had failed. They have now appointed a dedicated VR team who are responsible for the implementation. The team have set up a protocol, there are good facilities for training and people feel responsible for the VR equipment. This is music to our ears.”

“For me the design thinking in health care course was the highlight of 2020!” – Jasper de Haan, GGZ Delfland.

Studenten aan het werk

This course is meant for whom?

After two successful series of courses in November 2020 and May 2021, there will now be a third one, starting in March 2022. There are still some places available. “This course is meant for everyone who is struggling with a complex change issue in Health Care,” Tessa says. “And I literally mean everyone. In the first two series there were participants from all sorts of backgrounds such as medical professionals, engineers and researchers. But also, health scientists, owners of start-ups in the medical technical sector and also quite a number of policy officers. Participants come from Delft and Rotterdam as well as from various countries in Europe. This results into interesting conclusions and discussions. 

Substantial tools

The upcoming course will be given by Tessa, Anna Birgersdotter who is head of the Unit for Bio-entrepreneurship of the Swedish Karolinska Institute and professor dr. John Clarkson who is professor Engineering Designing at Cambridge, England. This course is meant for professionals and is given by professionals. There is room for only twenty participants. “As we give much personal feedback, we work in small groups and people switch places per workshop. This is considered very useful by all our participants. Just like the fact that the course is rounded off with substantial tools and an implementation plan. This means that the same procedure can be carried out together with colleagues in one’s own organization. I can honestly say that each and every participant has learned to look differently at their organization and to innovate effectively. And all that in not more than two weeks.’

Tessa Souhoka geeft les op de TU delft

The next D-Think Health series of courses starts in March 2022. Just like the previous two, this is a fully online course. More information about the contents and how to apply can be found on http://dthinkhealth.com/.