Bringing the social and health services together

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2020-11-30 16:18

In the health and social services reform in the municipalities of Western Uusimaa, customer experience is the starting point for everything.

Smooth provision of services is in the best interests of all parties involved

The Western Uusimaa municipalities Espoo, Hanko, Inkoo, Karkkila, Kauniainen, Kirkkonummi, Lohja, Raasepori, Siuntio and Vihti, have started to build a joint health and social services model in accordance with the policies of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The municipalities will be developing the services together, regardless of whether the national health and social services reform takes place or not.

The previous government’s model for health and social services was criticised for being too focused on administrative issues. Now the focus has been set on people, the customers.

“In our own work, we have also examined the content of services in addition to administration,” says Markus Syrjänen, Director of Administration and Development in Espoo.

Programme Director Jutta Tikkanen emphasises that structural changes must be planned in such a way that they enable customer-oriented service.

Customer orientation means combining services so that the customer always gets a response based on their first contact, no matter which party they are in contact with.

“Currently, the various actors involved do not know each other sufficiently well.

In many cases, it requires several contacts before your own case moves forward. Some people get tired of seeking help and drop out,” Elina Jaakovlew-Markus admits.

Jaakovlew-Markus works as manager of health services development in Espoo.

Syrjänen points out that, in the future, health and social services staff will take over the responsibility. The customers do not even need to be aware of what services are available for their problem or what they need in the first place.

A rational approach in the initial phase saves both the customer’s time and the service provider’s resources.

Clarity to digital services

The goal is that customers would increasingly make first contact through digital channels. A lot of background work has been done to enhance the usability and clarity of such services.

When, in the future, routine matters, such as appointment booking, are managed digitally, it will free up resources for things that require special attention.

On the other hand, it will also leave more time for providing telephone service for customers who are not familiar with digital channels.

“However, not all people can be served or all things managed digitally, so physical encounters are also needed,” Jaakovlew-Markus points out.

The internal functions of health and social services professionals are an equal target of digital development.

“When we have uniform systems and the staff know how to best use them, they have more time for encountering people,” Syrjänen says.

Everybody wins

When services are provided in large service entities, the provision of special expertise improves. Instead of the customer needing to travel to another location to get a specific service, the primary nurse or contact person can consult a specialist, the specialist can rotate in different units or the service can be provided digitally.

“Only in exceptional cases the customermay need to travel further to get some special service,” Syrjänen promises.

One example of such a case are the services that all Western Uusimaa municipalities provide for their Swedish-speaking residents.

“When services are managed jointly, we can offer a wider range of services to everyone,” Syrjänen says.

In the future, digital services will enable encountering the customer more often along the whole service path.

Länsi-Uudenmaan sote-yhteistyöalueen kartta.

Western Uusimaa: 1 Espoo, 2 Hanko, 3 Inkoo, 4 Kauniainen, 5 Karkkila, 6 Kirkkonummi, 7 Lohja, 8 Raasepori, 9 Siuntio, 10 Vihti.

Article continues here: Social and health services according to your life situation - The client knows best

Text: Tiina Parikka. This article has been published in Espoo Magazine 4/2020, 28 November 2020.

Information on Western Uusimaa social and health services programme