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The co-creation of Health Works

8 minute read

How do you create a place where members of the public and different organisations want to collaborate? We believe it’s done by also involving them in the development of such a place. During the whole of 2020 we were busy shaping Health Works together with a number of different people, asking, testing, rethinking and refining.

A cross-functional project team at AstraZeneca partnered with the design and innovation agency Doberman to lead a process that also involved healthcare providers, various experts and innovators. Health Works would not have become what it is today without those different perspectives. Even picking the Health Works name was a collaborative process.

When designing the Health Works space in Gothenburg, we wanted to create an environment where people feel comfortable to talk about everything - including difficult things, such as living with a challenging diagnosis. At the same time it had to be a space where people feel creative and inspired to come up with new ideas and innovative solutions. To achieve this, we had to make sure that people with different experiences and expertise step into Health Works and feel at home, at ease and equally valued. Mia Rajalin from the Lung Cancer Association expressed clearly what she would expect; ”I don’t want to be treated as a patient in this context, in this building everyone is as good an expert as everybody else.” A lot of effort was put into creating such an environment, with the project team developing ideas that were shared, discussed and adjusted to finally arrive at the final design of Health Works, created by Wingårdhs architects.

The ambition to make Health Works a meeting ground extends far beyond the physical space, with the most crucial aspect being how we best involve members of the public in our work. “Patients do not have the same relationship with healthcare today and we need to welcome it and take advantage of these forces and change.” stated Lina Strand Backman, head of Innovation office (Region Västra Götaland in Sweden) who has been involved at different stages of the development of Health Works.

To meet and take advantage of these new behaviours and expectations, different potential collaborators have made it clear that we must think bigger than patients in different care situations. Instead we must think about and approach people as people who at times might be patients. Kristina Söderlund from Greater Stockholm’s Diabetes Association described it in simple terms; “Many of those who live with lifelong diseases are not patients all the time. Most of the time you are your own person, and as such need to manage your illness yourself. You have a diagnosis but you do not think of yourself as sick.”

Thinking more holistically has informed all different aspects of the development of Health Works and will continue to do so. This is crucial to gain a more relevant and complete understanding of the people who’s health challenges we’ll set out to solve. Håkan Billig, Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy also emphasised the importance of this approach to drive innovation; “If car manufacturers are going to innovate today they cannot think about car owners. They think about people who need to transport themselves. If you want to innovate within health you cannot think about patients, you have to think about people.”

Informed by these and many other perspectives, we have been able to shape Health Works’ collaboration guidelines, design the space, develop selection criteria for projects, formulate needs and expectations for the Health Works team, and develop communication to help us better explain our ambition.

We are now looking forward to the many more co-creations to come!

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