Innovative services in the assistive and preventive healthcare markets

Creating business models for collaborative service networks

The INDiGeR research project – Innovative Netzwerke für Dienstleistungen und Gesundheit in Regionen von morgen – aims to develop new solutions for the provision of networked services in the healthcare sector. It focuses on four essential questions: What are the basic design parameters of a robust service network? How are services developed? What kind of business model best fits the needs of collaborative service provision? What metrics can be used to measure performance?

Health market innovation

Preventive healthcare is a topic of socioeconomic relevance and political interest, not least since the promulgation of the German Preventive Health Care Act (PrävG), which is the response to social factors such as a rapidly changing employment market, which confronts the working population with new and increasing demands, changes affecting the education system such as an increased need for daycare facilities from a very young age, and demographic change, resulting in an ageing population in which there will soon be more pensioners than active workers. But preventive care starts, by definition, before the onset of health problems, and should preferably be provided by health visitors who can offer consultations in kindergartens and schools, colleges and universities, retirement and care facilities, at a place of work or in peoples’ own homes. This calls for a wide range of affordable services in each of these domains. Collaborative service networks are a good way of delivering effective and financially viable healthcare services on a regional basis. As partners in the INDiGeR project, we are exploring how to design such collaborative networks. The aim is to offer a practical working framework that can be used by healthcare providers, non-profit welfare organizations and private individuals wishing to take the initiative of creating networks for the provision of innovative healthcare services.

A networked approach to expanding service businesses

Fraunhofer IAO’s role in this project is to coordinate research and development activities relating to collective business models. This work involves developing new and innovative business models for networking partnerships in the healthcare and other service sectors. For one thing is certain: value creation in collaborative networks is a process that cannot function or be effective without concerted effort. The most challenging aspect of this work is bringing all stakeholders around the same table, with their often highly diverse interests, processes and resources, and coordinating their input in such a way that their services can be offered jointly. Fraunhofer IAO has designed a model framework which integrates the conventional business model dimensions: formulation of the service commitment, organization of service processes, financial management, and compliance with relevant service operating conditions. In this model, the networked services delivered in a specific sector are always viewed from two perspectives: that of the external customers (target group) and that of the internal partners in the network. The internal perspective requires companies and organizations wishing to expand their business through networked service provision to reflect on how best to motivate and encourage the other partners in the network to perform their share of the work reliably. The external perspective simulates the collective view of potential customers for the networked services. The aim here is to leverage the innovation potential of new services in existing and emerging markets by means of joint strategies, the pooling of resources, and risk-sharing. To support the development of networked business models, Fraunhofer IAO has developed a tool specifically designed to collect, correlate and visualize the contributions by different collaborators.

Four other partners in this project are conducting research on “Design of network structures and processes,” “Productization of health services”, and “Summative und formative evaluation.” This work includes selecting and defining healthcare targets along the lines of the WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).