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Exporting NHS Know-How

Externalising and monetising our public sector assets.

All we hear and see on TV and in social media is bad news about the UK National Health Service (NHS). Yet, as imperfect as this organisation is, there is an enormous pool of untapped wealth and value inside this organisation. As the government grapples with Brexit and tries to incentivise the development of a high-value, export-oriented digital economy, the opportunity is inside it's own boundaries: the Department of Health and, specifically, the NHS.

The Opportunity

The NHS is a vast and complex organisation, with a rich seam of health expertise. But this expertise is largely confined to silos of individual NHS Trusts. We want to show NHS executives and subject matter experts how we can enable the conversion of this 'brainware' into software. In practice, this means capturing and recognising the Intellectual Property (IP) converted into digital solutions, which in turn, are monetised on a global basis and where recurring royalties are paid to NHS Trusts, CCGs and other owners of such IP.

We then have the means to monetise this know-how, in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions - for a global audience. This means generating export sales and royalties paid to NHS and other subject matter experts for business won in North America, South America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

In the end, the royalties generated from these global sales will enable the NHS and UK citizens to fund the use of these digital innovations in UK through offsetting local investments with royalties from international sales generated by Being Guided.

But the key question is this: how can we enable NHS 'brainwave' to be converted into monetised software? The answer is: Design Thinking.

So, for health organisations, what complex problems can be solved by applying Design Thinking? In turn, when we uncover complex problems, how can we solve them around the globe, by converting NHS expertise into useful, affordable digital platforms?

The Approach

Our Design Thinking method gets to the heart of how the NHS can export its expertise in novel ways to the rest of the world. This is all about how a structured approach to Design Thinking can be adopted and sponsored by NHS executives.

This approach includes applying Design Thinking techniques, such as Empathy Mapping, to better identify both implicit and explicit critical health needs and define the journey from 'brainware' to software-based solutions, resulting in valuable export outcomes from the NHS - as recurring revenues from subscription fees to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps.

Design Thinking applied to digital innovation includes taking advantage of emerging technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Machine Learning.

And what is the Internet Of Things (IOT)? Answer: it is the complex interrelationships between humans, objects, and the Internet. Design Thinking is especially relevant to digital innovation, where new technologies, such as IOT, drives a compelling need to better understand user behaviours with a more diverse set of User Interfaces (UIs).

For digital health and social care innovation, the UI is moving on from simply the Web browser of app page on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone device to a bewildering number of devices and products that utilise IOT technologies - effectively, the UI 'embedded' within everyday objects.

With IOT we are beginning to see everyday objects becoming 'connected' or 'smart' through enabling communications over the Internet: cars, clothing, food and drinks packaging, home appliances, ... and now, of course, medical devices. This is where we, as consumers, are becoming open to a more intimate 'immersive' experience with producers. This presents many questions about ethics, where social can become anti-social, where users must control consent, where privacy may be compromised, and so forth. When does 'immersive' become 'intrusive'?

The Skills

Design has become mainstream thinking: Design Thinking. This may be defined as a method and set of values or behaviours as a human-centered approach to solving problems. Today, in digital innovation, we see Design Thinking being embraced by User Experience (UX) Designers. But, as the UI becomes more diverse and more complex, there's an evolution of the UX Designer's skills: they become the Design Anthropologist.

So, what is Design Anthropology? Here's a definition:

"Design Anthropology is the study of how design translates human values into tangible experiences."

Design Anthropology is a way to uncover social aspects of user experience and here, the ideas are oriented towards the world I am most familiar with: digital innovation.

Why is Design Anthropology important for digital innovation?

Here's how Amy Santee, a practising User eXperience (UX) Designer, summarised why Design Anthropology is important to a designer:

"Anthropology is the perfect training for business and design. You have to understand people to design things for them. Anthropology gives you the tools for this."

Conceptually, Design Anthropologists are super-empathetic designers, who create solutions for both diverse and specific audiences. Socially, Anthropology applied means enabling more inclusivity, by better understanding differences in people and cultures. A great example of a forward-thinking designer focused on diversity is Benjamin Evans at Belong.

Design Anthropology is both good business sense and great social responsibility: having a greater understanding of (and empathy with) different people and cultures. This is especially true when designing for citizens, with health and social care digital innovation in mind.

What does Anthropology bring to Design Thinking?

  1. Enables direct observations, in the field - not arm's length surveys.
  2. Emphasises human variability, relative to specific industries or use cases.
  3. Better understands the motivations of people making decisions.
  4. Focuses on empathy: not judging, but understanding.

In practice, this means going deeper: more observations, more incisive questions, and greater empathy. Anthropologists and Ethnographers should become part of the design team: social scientists adding value to a more sophisticated Design Thinking process. Again, this is critical to success in converting NHS 'brainware' to software - in the cloud.

The Action

What matters here is action: getting stuff done!

Being Guided can enable NHS and other subject matter experts to productise and monetise their know-how - for the common good of citizens and to create new ventures that becomes the high-value digital exporters the UK government wants. This journey from 'brainwave' to software takes the best of Design Thinking and brings a new breed of designer - the Design Anthropologist to create digital solutions.

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