There is no way back – we are here to make changes: Laurea students participated to international Multiprofessional Digital Design Sprint at Riga

Teksti | Outi Ahonen , Pirjo Valpas

Digital health and welfare services are biggest growing sector in the world wide business. With digitalisation on its way to the health care sector we are on the verge of big changes. E-health and digital services will be considered mundane in the future and future generations will be able to navigate through them effortlessly. It´s also large paradigm change to health and social care to get patient at customer’s role and be able to effective his and her care more. The European Union (EU) has a strong will to make the Digital single market to EU region. The functional digital services need multidisciplinary competences from health and social care, information technology (IT), business administration and service design.  Our bachelor students were given a chance to get a glimpse of what the future of digital development holds during the Multiprofessional Digital Design Sprint Week (Muddie week) which was held this spring from the 7th to the 12th of April, 2019 at Riga.

It was a week filled with collaboration, skill-sharing, learning and networking all of which are beneficial for the future. We had 45 students from different fields participating in Muddie week. Students from Finland were from Laurea, Arcada, Haaga-Helia and Metropolia Universities of Applied Sciences. Our Estonian students were from Tartu Health Care College and our Latvian Students were representing Red Cross Medical College and Cultural College of Riga.

This future-orientated project was funded by NordPlus and was led by Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Service design sprint was led and facilitated by lecturers also from Laurea.  Teachers from each school had double role as coaches and experts on they own field. Students were presented with real cases from Latvian health companies and start-ups. Here two students Alexandra Akmaikina and Derek Roche share their experiences:

Derek Roche and Alexandra Akmaikina

Tell me a little about yourself?

Alexandra:  I’m a 25-year-old first year nursing student in Laurea UAS. I have a degree in English language. My background is in nursing and I have a degree in preventative medicine. My background is what sparked my interest in innovating for the health care system which then lead me to apply to do a nursing degree in Finland. I was inspired to get more into the digital world by people I met in Finland who all work in different fields for example engineers, IT-specialists and managers. This is why I did not have any doubts when I decided to enroll into the DEDIWE 2018-2019 course, which included Muddie Week.

Derek: I came to Finland from Ireland 20 years ago after meeting my Finnish wife. For the past 16 years I’ve been working as communications consultant. A year ago, I began to study again and was lucky enough to have a mentor through work. It was actually her suggestion that led to me to digital health and IOT. I’m now studying Business Management in Laurea UAS and will specialise in safety, security and risk management.

I teamed up with five other students and started a study group. Four of us are participating in the Muddie week, Minna Nikola, Neili Jasmine Leppäviita and Mark Brown. The Development of Digital Healthcare course consists of three units, two of which were held online and the third is the Muddie intensive week.

My general impression of the study process during the intensive week.

Aleksandra: The intensive week in Riga was my first experience with multiprofessional work. I must to say, that it was an unbelievably valuable experience for me as a health care professional and as well as for personal skills’ improvement. The intensive week requires hard work and maximum concentration and creativity, being open-minded and productive while working with new information.

The Muddie week was a big challenge for me not only because of different goals, tasks and time frames, but due to differences in cultures, competences and
communication levels of participants. I feel that this experience has helped
me understand the different values and possibilities which I might encounter in my future career and in the future of health care in general. I am going to use the skills I learned in my future studies and working environments by design thinking methods and other tools which we were introduced to in Riga. They have showed me how narrow-minded I am in many practical and theoretical points.

Another valuable aspect of the intensive study week was the constant presence of
coaches. We could get advice, tips and consultations from professionals in each field including the fields of as medicine, design, security, IT, social and business. The coaches were inspiring, directing and supported us before, during and after trip. The teachers did not distance themselves from the students and were happy to answer all our questions.

Derek: I found it very interesting. It was challenging at first to come together and work with people from different fields. Fields ranged from business and IT to nursing but we managed to find a common ground in the end. The facilities were fantastic.

We were given the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with companies who provided the cases as well as learning about working life in Latvia. I found this to be extremely beneficial. We were also able to network during the week. I might even use the representative from the company Digital Brand as a contact in the future. Learning how companies in Latvia network proved to be useful.

The companies as well as the cases provided were all different. Lectures based on the cases were informative and to the point. I especially enjoyed the IT lecture, which was given by lecturer from Arcada UAS. He had well-thought examples and he provided us with a different point of view on the subject.


Aleksandra: Towards the end of week, I was full of emotions, experiences and memories. Due to time limitations we felt stressed sometimes, but that just gave me an insight to how the development of projects happens in real life.

My Muddie week -team had nursing students, a social services student and a business student. After 5 days of brainstorming with those wonderful individuals I am sure that the phrase ’Together we are stronger’ is true, because only in multiprofessional working environments we are able to find and develop solutions for the proposed challenge. As for me, there is no way back – we are here to make changes. I am infinitely thankful to be given the chance to participate in the DEDIWE course and the Muddie intensive week. I have never felt so inspired and purposeful in my life.

Derek: Thank you Laurea, and especially our own department, for making this possible! We are extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to take part in Muddie week.

The Service Design Week (Muddie) provided great opportunity for multiprofessional cooperation with students but it also was great learning opportunity for teachers. Most of the teachers have been working together in the Developer of Digital Health and Welfare services (DeDiWe) project during 2015 – 2018. They have also had the possibility to organise the intensive weeks for NordPlus Muddie Week. Teachers have learned to work as team to facilitate students’ groups even though each teacher has a different professional background ranging from health and social to IT, business and service. The intensive week also provided a possibility for master students to take part in the teachers’ team and act as a facilitator in order to gain work experience. As one of the students said there is no turning back from digitalisation. The same applies to multiprofessional and multicultural teaching in Universities of Applied Sciences, digitalisation is the way to go. Due to the digitalisation of health and social care, multiprofessional teacher groups are needed to facilitate students in order to create future services. In Finland we have a national project called SotePeda 24/7 which is led by Laurea and is an excellent opportunity for teachers and students to learn more about digitalisation in health and social care.

More information about the week can be found from the link below:

National Project SotePeda 24/7

Ahonen O, Tana J, Lejonqvist G-B, Mahla M, Marnauza S, Rajalahti E. Case Study: The Development of Digital Health and Welfare Services in Estonia, Finland and Latvia. EU*US eHealth Work Project’s Global Case Studies. Chicago: HIMSS; 2018.


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