Service shop – user management of municipal services
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
Service shop, developed by the municipality of Larvik:
- is an online booking and calendar solution that allows service recipients to determine the time of receiving municipal services based on the recipients own calender and wishes
- is a secure solution that takes care of the privacy of the service recipients
- makes it easier for the employees to plan their days, the service order automatically generates employee workflow.
The municipality of Larvik is proactive in participating in projects where the aim is to meet the challenges the public sector will face in coming years, in terms of increased work load and a shortage of resources in the health sector.
Good solutions to the challenges we will meet the next several years should provide realization of benefits, without compromising the perceived quality, neither of those receiving municipal services or in those who every day provide various services to local inhabitants. Larvik is constantly striving to maintain the focus on professional development and high quality of its health care services in parallel with the increased demands and less available resources. Service Shop is Larvik's own innovative-idea. The municipality prioritises time and resources for this project in an effort to meet the challenges in the public sector in the coming years.
Service Shop is a user-friendly and easily understandable technological solution that puts the users’ autonomy and quality of life into focus. At the same time the solution has the potential for efficiency gains and cost reductions in public services.
The idea behind the Service Shop came about when a new co-located property with mostly young people with physical disabilities was established. Several of these people expressed a desire for a more flexible and user-driven service than they had experience with before. The director and head of department as “Marius Brygge” started drafting various paper versions of calendars that could be used for ordering services - from week to week, before the idea of developing an app for this purpose was launched. The app was developed in record time in early autumn 2013, we conducted an intensive pilot project with four recipients after launch. In addition, we also know that the national guidelines, including report. St. 29 (2012-2013) “Tomorrow's care” aims at increasing user control and putting recipients in the driver's seat of their own lives. This strengthened our conviction for wanting to further develop the idea and solution of the pilot project, allowing us to carry out trials on a larger scale and scope, in larger and more user groups.
"Opening time" - the time when services can be ordered in the Service Shop, is defined by the administrator of the department associated with the Service shop, and therefore can vary from department to department. There will also be departmental variation in the number of service providers who are available to provide services within the defined hours. The department's capacity will thus not be challenged more than before, because the scope and quantity of services will remain unchanged. Service recipients are assigned, however, will be automatically distributed within the set time for each department. The recipient is shown available dates on logging in. Services can be ordered at any time up to 14 days ahead within the defined opening time. Time which has already been booked by others will be shown as busy. The recipient must then find another vacant time slot for his order. In this way Service Shop also acts as a tool to help recipients organize and plan their daily lives. It is also about accountability putting an onus on recipients to meet up or be available to receive the services they themselves have ordered.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Service Shop is more like service innovation than a technological innovation. It is about using technology in a new way, to change the organizational design of health care.
Service Shop involves adopting an online calendar and booking function where recipients can order municipal services at times that suit them. The innovation idea is not primarily about developing a technological solution, but rather (1) to further develop the technology so that it meets the new and more complex requirements for user management and organization of services in an efficient manner, while retaining personal safety, and (2) experiment with new principles for service provision. The following articles may be considered as a new step in "caring stairs" - a step midway between user-controlled personal assistant (BPA) and traditional services.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The technology is implemented and is now in operation. Testing of the solution has been running since January 2017. The solution is currently in operation in 4 departments in the municipality- by persons with physical and mental disabilities. We have completed training processes for administrators in the participating departments as well as for personnel who will handle the application in carrying out daily tasks, as well as with recipients og services. We have now started working with further 6 departments who will start to use the solution during the winter 18/19 and the spring -19.
Simultaneously with the implementation, our research team will be closely following the project, studying and evaluating the effects of the project within quality experience, as well as resource utilization and economic benefits for the municipality
Collaborations & Partnerships
Our project team is made up of representatives from a number of departments within the municipality including persons working with people with disabilities, mental health issues and addiction, representatives from the IT department, a recipient representative and a person from the development center for home care and assisted living. Additionally close contact was established with a resource person working with welfare Technology. External reasearch partners have been involved almost since start.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The service recipients are experiencing increased flexibility in terms of that they choose the time when they receive their municipal services. They experience a freedom to do things, such as social activities with friends or family which may have been skipped if they had not been able to choose the time for the service. Service shop is about changing the employee's mindset regarding how to deliver municipal services. The power of the recipient's life is transferred to the recipient himself!
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Service Shop focuses on respect for the recipient's integrity, wants for flexibility, autonomy and quality of life, rather than the power of the responsible service provider, department or municipality.
Service Shop do also act as a tool to help recipients organize and plan their daily lives. It is also about accountability putting an onus on recipients to meet up or be available to receive the services they themselves have ordered. The municipality is experiencing increasingly that the recipients choose not to receive services that are set up as a recurring appointment. When receiving services they must decide the time, thus the service provider experiences fewer situations where services cannot be delivered due to unavailibity and is therefore able to make better use of available resources.
Challenges and Failures
Throughout the functional test phase while testing the technology, patience, cooperative ability and good communication were necessary. This was a phase where the management team was pushing for the start-up and involvement of service recipients. The management team wanted to get results that could be displayed. At the same time, it was necessary in this phase to spend enough time testing the functionality of the technology so that it worked optimally when it was introduced to the first service recipients.
Conditions for Success
Conditions like good leadership and guidance is important and necessary, to make success of an innovation like Service Shop.
The role of employees in innovation activities and how leaders interact with these employees to establish the necessary commitment to innovation process, is an important condition for success.
Other condition for success of an innovation is overall plans and strategy of the municipality. The municipal strategy for 2016- 2019 for Larvik municipality, as well as our overall plan for future health services, shows that our municipality has focus on innovation. Systematic and strategic work with innovation involves a willingness to invest in work where there is a chance of success but also the risk of failure. Innovation involves risk because future solutions are always more or less uncertain. There is still a bigger risk not to be concerned with innovation, because we know that change is necessary to ensure the citizens good and available services in the future.
The technological solution of Service Shop has no scope limitation. The project has started on a small scale, but we will constantly strive to expand the scale up. Within the health and care sector there is an interest to allow for the “shopping” of relief measures for children, as well as short-term relief/short-term stays in nursing homes for the elderly, to mention a few parts. In addition, the possibility of involving other sectors than healthcare is also been looked into. We consider there to be significant potential in facilitating increased user control within the school sector, where parents are often summoned to parent / teach conferences and appointments in schools and kindergartens several times per year. Other sectors with direct “residents-municipality- contact” could also benefit from a reservation function for residents, allowing them to book an appropriate time for an appointment within the frame of time, defined by managers in the municipality.
When doing a service-innovation; take time, be patient, involve resource persons, involve the users and involve the employees. Find the right key persons for the project-team. Anchor the thought and idea all directions in the organization.
When employees have to change the way they work and the way they think, spend time with them to convince them about the innovation. Let the employees get to know the underlying purpose, answer all their questions, let them be curious about the solution. The time you spend in this phase will probably help out the employees sensemaking and the process of implementing the innovation.