Case: collaboration model for entrepreneurs and healthcare actors.

The healthcare sector is facing major social and technological changes both in the short- and long- term. Because of these changes there is a need for close collaboration between entrepreneurs in healthcare and the healthcare sector. To stimulate this collaboration, ‘Agentschap Ondernemen’ and ‘Flanders’ Care’ decided to unravel what is going on in this sector and discover the wishes and needs of both entrepreneurs, those who are doing business with the sector and the healthcare actors themselves. But most importantly: what are the needs of and conditions for both parties to work together on improving healthcare?

Goal of the project

The aim of this project was to facilitate healthcare actors and entrepreneurs within the healthcare sector to come up with concrete collaboration proposals in such a way that ‘Agentschap Ondernemen’ and ‘Flanders’ Care’ can adapt them and administer their input in a bottom-up approach.

Executed by U-Sentric

Spread over Flanders and Brussels (Hasselt, Brussels, Antwerp, Aalst, Geel, Roeselare, Ghent and Ostend) we organized 8 workshops in which various stakeholders from both parties took part. Those participating in this project were people actively working in the healthcare sector and as such, able to speak and act from their own personal experiences and know-how.

Not only new collaboration concepts surfaced during these workshops; the conditions and constraints which could have an impact on the collaboration also came up for discussion. The outcome of these workshops had to be a model which was achievable in different phases: immediately and in a short- and long-term view.
To be able to realize this, we focused on the following aspects in each workshop:

  • Why do entrepreneurs and healthcare actors want to work together or why don’t they want to work together?
  • What are their priorities within this collaboration?
  • How do the different stakeholders experience collaboration today, what are their pains and gains? How do they collaborate today?
  • What would be a workable collaboration proposal?
  • What can we implement immediately, what is feasible in the short- and medium-term, what is needed to make this collaboration possible and which party (government, healthcare sector or entrepreneurs) is responsible for the implementation?

Each of these workshops applied the same methodology and was based on the learnings and proposals from previous workshops.

  1. Create empathy between healthcare actors and entrepreneurs: each participant took the time to introduce himself and tell the others why he was participating and what his expectations were. The introductions over, we divided the group into smaller groups placing the entrepreneurs together and the healthcare actors together, so that they could talk about what they thought was important within this collaboration. By allocating the key elements and priorities which are needed for an excellent collaboration between both parties, we had a starting point upon which we could base the rest of the workshop. After that, both parties worked together to arrive at a workable solution based on the priorities which will give them a greater understanding of the problems each of them face.
  2. The creation of ideal collaboration conditions: the group of participants was split into heterogenous groups of entrepreneurs and healthcare actors. the challenge being for each and every group to share the same target and that each discussion would lead to a solution: how can we work together and what is needed? What needs to happen so that both parties can collaborate in a win-win situation? Both groups worked on a solution based on previously- stated priorities and with a focus on the needs and wishes of their own sector.
  3. Prioritizing the ideas and proposals: the ideal proposal was to be enhanced based on its feasibility and importance. “What are the quick wins, the opportunities and what isn’t feasible?” These elements were visualized in an opportunity/difficulty matrix. Based on that matrix we could detect which actions would be relevant and in which period or budget they could be realized.


Opportunity/difficulty matrix

Opportunity/difficulty matrix


The importance/difficulty matrix was used as a point of reference in the end report. The proposals and suggestions of all participants were discussed and analyzed. These proposals, as well as the priorities and key elements, were clustered into different topics. After each topic we made recommendations targeted towards different authorities. We also formulated policy input for the government.

Holding workshops in this way gave us a lot more meaningful insights to further the objective, something that surveys fall short of. Co-creation has a lot of advantages which we will look at closely in our next article.