Guy Boersma, MD of KSS AHSN, was recently appointed as a Healthcare Denmark Ambassador. Here he tells us what that means and why he’s excited about the role.

Tell us about the Denmark connection

There’s a long-standing history of collaboration between us at KSS AHSN, colleagues across our region and our counterparts working in healthcare in Denmark. A number of study tours over the years have enabled us to share insights, innovations and methodologies that enhance work on both sides of the North Sea.

What first inspired you about the Danish approach?

I was initially inspired by Denmark’s people-centred approach to improving public services and the coherence of its national, regional and municipality strategy for health and care technology innovation.

What’s your experience of collaborating with Danish colleagues?

After five years of working with Danish colleagues I am now also inspired by the way they go about collaborating on projects. They are generous and humble, and collaboration seems to come very naturally. I think the culture of Denmark is very well suited to open innovation, citizen-centred design and continuous improvement of public services.

I’ve talked in a previous blog about the importance of trust in working relationships and for effective collaboration to take place. In my book, trust comes from selflessness and a combination of credibility, reliability and integrity. Together these are the essential ingredients for trust to flourish and I have found all of these qualities in many of my Danish contacts.

Being a Healthcare Denmark ambassador sounds very grand, what does it involve?  

Healthcare Denmark is a gateway to Danish healthcare and life science expertise and innovation. They organize delegation visitor programmes that offer a chance to experience innovative solutions in practice.

The ambassador role basically involves working together and helping to connect colleagues in the UK with colleagues in Denmark. It’s also telling the story about why this sort of international collaboration is worthwhile – it’s all about spreading effective solutions more widely to transform more lives through innovation.

Can you give us an example of international collaboration in action?

If I’ve got to choose one of the best, I would point to the use in KSS of the co-design methodology that originated with Public Intelligence in Denmark. It’s been one of the foundations of the success of projects such as TIHM for Dementia led by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS FT, the work at Leach Court in Brighton led by the University of Brighton and at Dover Dementia Village led by Henry Quinn.

It’s a way of working that which starts and ends with the people using the service or product. Their involvement at every stage of the co-production means that the resulting solutions are enhanced in ways which groups of ‘professionals’ or ‘experts’ would never achieve by themselves.