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4D Health Centre's Enric Macarulla Sanz on social innovation in health and social care

Enric Macarulla Sanz is the Director 4D Health Centre, Innovation for Patient Saftey.

Social Innovation Europe interviewed Enric on his insights around innovation within health and social care, building on our recently published paper “Social Innovation in Health and Social Care". 

What for you are the most important health and social care innovations that are taking place in Europe?

Innovation in social and healthcare has been mainly based on the technological side. Progress in the industrial field, and especially in technology of information and communication, leads to a more efficient health and social care environment. 

The challenge in this century is twofold: on the one hand, dealing with the integration of people (the human factor) and on the other, the technological innovation. Very often, innovations in health or social care, which have once been proved effective, are finally seen as not, just because of the lack of adherence to them by the client or user, either patients/citizens or professionals. By developing non-technological innovation to improve health and social care system by means of a real patients/citizen empowerment, you’re moving toward a citizen-centered paradigm instead of a more paternalistic model with the administration acting as an absolute controller.

Effective citizens’ training and participation in the strategies and programs, considering them as owners of their own health, and acting as a real stakeholder, is one of the biggest advances in the social and health sector. Nevertheless, while these strategies are being carried out in some countries, in others, it has not even have been raised. Dissemination and implementation of these strategies around the world by adapting them to the peculiarities and reality of each country should be the great challenge of the first half of this century.

What do you find interesting about the approach taken by the Young Foundation paper?

The Young Foundation paper published by Social Innovation Europe clarifies some innovation concepts around social care, and integration with social and healthcare.

The paper is very useful in proposing some strategies in order to improve social and geriatric care, mainly focusing the care system around the citizen and giving us some examples of different projects developed in the field which helps for understanding better the proposals.

What can cities regions and national authorities do to promote more rapid diffusion of these types of innovations?

New strategies of the European Union (EU) are focused on final objective, outcomes and results coming from the new projects of research or innovation; therefore, the most important challenge for different authorities around social and healthcare should be fostering those strategies where the projects are well defined in terms of outcomes and applied results, clarifying what are the related indicators and the impact on the citizen as a final customer of the system.

Following this issue, new strategies and their related projects in social and healthcare must integrate all the stakeholders, training them together before the application in a real environment; it’s not enough with a classical method mostly based on theoretical presentation and discussion - we have to train before acting.

Highly realistic scenarios are allowing us to train all the stakeholders together in the same manner in which they will work in the reality. Working with this kind of scenarios we can at the same time, a) test the innovation, b) train the patients/citizens, professionals or caregivers and finally c) improving the posterior adherence when innovation is applied.

With this new strategy, we are dealing with a real translational innovation, putting the final customer as a centre, either through technological innovation with testing the associated human factor impact or non-technological innovation with new processes, protocols, methodologies etc.

Read the paper: Social Innovation in Health and Social Care 

Read an interview with URBACT's Mireia Sanabria

26 Feb 2016