Daniel Kotsjuba: Start with the end-user when designing products or services

Designer of the Estonian Public Sector Innovation Team (Innotiim), Daniel Kotsjuba, spoke at the IN-4-AHA seminar on 18 January dedicated to methods co-creation process in the AHA field, about how co-creation has been implemented in the public sector. The seminar is available for replay here

The Public Sector Innovation Team is tasked with making Estonia’s public services more user-friendly and people-centric in cooperation with ministries and divisions. The team also organises service design trainings for public sector officials. In his introduction of the Public Sector Innovation Team and what it does, Daniel brought out that the end-user is often forgotten when designing products or services and the focus is on the needs of the provider. As a result of such design process, the end-user might not start to use the product or service at all. The main objective of the Public Sector Innovation Team is to represent the interests and needs of the user in the design process.  

According to Daniel, they have been asked repeatedly where service design can and cannot be used. He believes the real question should be about the organisation’s approach to the process. “If you approach things with bias, if you’re not open and have already made up your mind on certain things, you risk not getting the full benefit of the process,” says Daniel. “You shouldn’t be afraid and you should have the support of the organisation. As a team, we have to see to it that the voices of everyone involved are heard, and our very important role in the design process is to stand up for the user’s perspective and needs. The meaning of ‘user’ may vary from project to project.”

Pathway design for cancer patients

One of the first projects of the Public Sector Innovation Team was to design the care pathway of a cancer patient for North Estonia Medical Centre. The aim of the project was to analyse the pathway undertaken by a patient and to make improvements based on the analysis. According to Daniel, the Public Sector Innovation Team took a look at the entire pathway, including the time before and after the patient’s stay at the hospital. The patient’s pathway before the hospital determines what takes place at the hospital.

To map the path, several personas were developed to represent cancer patients. The team tried to map out the various ways people might end up taking the pathway. This part is always very important in projects, as it provides an opportunity to visualise abstract issues in concrete terms and discuss what makes a specific step on the pathway a high or low point for the patient.

The process revealed that a patient’s need for support begins while they are still awaiting a diagnosis. This led to the question: how to offer support to someone who has yet to enter the system, strictly speaking. This period also proved difficult for loved ones.

Another important finding was that patients do not have sufficient awareness and an overview of the care pathway. This might be the first time in someone’s life that they have to deal more closely with doctors and they might not know exactly what they should be doing.

It was also revealed that treatment lacks comprehensive support. People want to be seen as a person in their own right, not just as a cancer patient, because their lives are not defined by the disease. However, as Daniel points out, we often see processes that are designed to treat persons first and foremost as cancer patients and only then as a whole human being.

Conclusions made

As a result of the design process, it was concluded that a new post – nurse coordinator – should be created in the medical system. A nurse coordinator would act as a mediator between the medical treatment team and the patient, keeping an eye on what the patient is doing. In addition, it was found that support specialists should be more involved in the care pathway, as this would significantly improve the patient’s compliance as well as treatment results. Third, it was brought out that communication between patients, their relatives and the medical team could be more effective.

According to Daniel, we can now say that this project and others like it have helped bring about a shift to look at things more from the patient’s point of view and, as a result, certain processes have either already changed or are changing.

According to him, the overall mindset is changing; Daniel and his team have increasingly less explaining to do as to why it is important to consider the end-user perspective. “Luckily, we have seen a big positive change in this respect, but we also have to realize that we are dealing with a process and changes take time,” says Daniel.

First selection of twinning pairs

We are pleased to announce the first 7 twinning projects that have been selected to be supported by the IN-4-AHA project! 

Twinnings are cross-border cooperation programs, that allow knowledge exchange and technology transfer between different EU regions, one being the originator (the developer of the initiative/innovative solution) and other being the adopter. Participants establish an action plan to learn and/or implement the innovation, which typically involves in-person meetings between them. The IN-4-AHA consortium can support this activity by re-imbursing travel expenses (travel, accommodation, food in the workday) up to 5.000 euros.

The first call for IN-4-AHA’s twinning selected 7 innovative practices originating organizations located in Spain, Portugal, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands. Partners from Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal will be adopting these innovations. The selected projects are:

  • The Ministry of Health and Families of Andalusia (RMHFA) Reference Site, that will be sharing ClicSalud+, a portal for citizens to access personal health information, for both administrative and clinical purposes, with the Scottish Government Reference Site
  • Lisbon AHA (Actif Age) and the Galician Health Ministry (Atendo) Reference Site will be exchanging another ICT tool for active and healthy aging but focused on developing physical and cognitive exercises for elderly populations – the Actif Age, an interactive digital platform for physical and cognitive activities.
  • Atendo (Galician Health Ministry) enters another twinning, as an adopter of the Smart Library (SlimoTheek) and the My Home Fits (Mijn Huis Op Maat) from GeneratieThuis, a Dutch organization specialized in delivering smart tools that support age-friendly environments, citizen empowerment, health self-management and ageing at home.
  • The Digital Health & Care Northern Ireland (Department of Health of Northern Ireland Reference Site) has developed the apps4dementia library, hosts a selection of safe and trusted mobile apps which provide people affected by dementia and their carers with information and guidance. The technical and operational aspects of this platform will be shared with the Department of Public Health, University of Naples “Federico II” (Campania Reference Site).
  • Also from the same originator – Digital Health & Care Northern Ireland (Department of Health of Northern Ireland Reference Site) within the apps4dementia library, two specific apps to support dementia patients and their careers have been developed, the InspireD Reminiscence App and the CLEAR Dementia Care App. They will be the basis of a knowledge exchange twinning with the NGO Greek Carers Network – EPIONI (Active Healthy Ageing 4 Attica Reference Site).
  • The Northern Spain Region is once more represented by the Galician Health Ministry, via the ACIS- Axencia de Coñecemento en Saúde,  this time as an originator of innovative practice, the Galician Network of Health Living Labs – LABSAÚD, to be shared with a Portuguese NGO Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Riba d’Ave (Porto4Ageing Reference Site).
  • The Ministry of Health Catalonia, Fundació TICSALUT Social Reference Site, via the Rovira I Virgili University was crucial in the development of the SoCaTel Co-Creation Platform  a tool for long care services, designed by a multi-stakeholder coalition based on the quadruple helix approach, including input from professionals, users, researchers, and innovators. SoCaTel will be adapted by the Digital Health Platform of the Usti Region Reference Site, though the Innovation Centre of the Usti Region.

Project mid-term meeting in Porto

Marking the mid-term point of the project, the IN-4-AHA partners came together for the first time in real life on 14 and 15 December for a strategy meeting to stake stock of where we are now and where we want to go next year. Based on experiences so far, as well as feedback from the European Commission’s expert review, the different work packages presented the state of their work and collected input from the rest of the partners in order to refine their deliverables and increase the impact of the project in 2022 and beyond. Special attention was paid to the innovation scale-up model and accompanying implementation roadmap, as well as how to better engage with the Active and Healthy Ageing community and ensure sustainability of the project’s achievements in the long run.

Given that the IN-4-AHA project started during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mid-term meeting offered a welcome opportunity to meet each other in person and discuss the project amongst each other without interference of poor internet connected or other technical difficulties. To accommodate those who were not able to travel to Porto, the meeting was set up in hybrid form allowing online participation as well.

For this occasion, the members of the Advisory Board were also invited to take part and give their feedback on the functioning of the project and the development of deliverables thus far.

Advisory Board member Ms. Tanja Skornšek Pleš said: “I am very glad for the opportunity to be here with you and to listen to everything you are discussing. Something I recognized, also because it is important in my own work, is the focus on the needs of users. I think it is always necessary to make a good analysis of user needs when trying to develop a new tool or solution.”

The Pairing Initiative (part of the Twinning call)

Meeting new partners from other Reference Sites might be a daunting task. In order to help the community, create new connections, the IN-4-AHA consortium has launched the Pairing Initiative, as a part of its 2022 Twinnings call. Nevertheless, the decision to form a twinning pair and apply together is up to the institutions themselves. 

To assure a level of regional influence and a holistic ecosystem approach to innovation uptake and scale up, the twinning program and pairing initiative are exclusively targeted at organizations having Reference Site status. You can check the current reference sites at EIP on AHA: Repository of innovative practices | Futurium (europa.eu). If in doubt if your institution belongs to a reference site, check the list (per region) and contact the Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN) at Home – RSCN . 

The AHA community has a long-shared history. In some cases, twinning pairs occur organically, as institutions observe the innovations implemented by fellow reference sites, and wish to adopt them themselves. For those cases, a submission form has already been developed (IN-4-AHA twinning schemes 2022 (google.com)). But this might not be the case for new Reference Site members, or even for others willing to try something new, or share their innovations with different partners. They are the focus of this Pairing Initiative.

To help adopters and originators find one another, two sign up forms are available: 

The Pairing Initiative is open from November 23rd to December 3rd.

If an originator-adopter match is found, the participants will be invited to get to know each other via email to set up a possible partnership and submit their application for twinning. All twinning applications must be submitted by December the 10th.  

Want to know more about Twinnings? 

Our November webinar “Cross-border cooperation: Lessons from twinning and matchmaking events” offers a real example of innovative practice shared across multiple EU countries will be discussed, highlighting the impacts the twinning participation had in its development and growth. The event will be held on the 30th of November, 11:00 to 12:15 CET, and registrations are available in the link: Event – in4aha (tehnopol.ee) 

General feedback survey

The IN-4-AHA Consortium organises a variety of activities relevant to the project and the Active and Healthy Ageing community. As the project is situated firmly within that community, we are dedicated to welcoming feedback at any time. Whether it relates to a webinar, focus group, or any other activity organised by IN-4-AHA, we would love to receive your input and comments in order to continue improving our actions and play into the needs and wishes of our stakeholders as best we can.

For this purpose, we have opened a feedback form where you can share your opinions on activities you have attended, and also suggest possible topics to be included in future activities. You are welcome to fill out the feedback form as many times as you like, for different activities/webinars/workshops/etc., and you will remain entirely anonymous.

Use the button below to access the feedback form. This form remains open until the project ends. 

Toolkit feedback form

Dear AHA stakeholder,

Are you providing or developing solutions (service, innovation, product) to support active and healthy ageing? Would you like to give your input to the participatory design toolkit? 

The aim of this survey is to map current practices in end-user involvement of product/service development processes among different stakeholders in the active and healthy ageing domain (AHA)The information collected by the survey will be used to create the participatory design toolkit. 

How will it benefit you? You will receive the aggregated results and contribute to the creation of the toolkit and scale-up model that will be shared within the AHA community.

We invite you to take the survey, if:

  • Your organization has developed or has been involved in the development of an innovative solution for active and healthy ageing such as digital health or care solutions;
  • The end users of your solution are ageing citizens, formal or informal caregivers, family members, patients or other relevant target group.

The Innovation Networks for Scaling Active and Healthy Ageing (IN-4-AHA) is a Coordination and Support Action funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme. The EU-funded IN-4-AHA project will enhance the uptake of digital innovations in active and healthy ageing.

Please submit your responses by October 19th, 2021, through clicking the button below.

IN-4-AHA highlights: What has been done?

It is safe to say that the summer flew by this year! The EU-funded Innovation Networks for Active and Healthy Ageing (IN-4-AHA) CSA believes that the same applies for the first 8 months of the project activities. IN-4-AHA has organized numerous events, stakeholder workshops and focus groups to engage with a wide range of stakeholders in the innovation and ageing domain. It is with that in mind that we are happy to share the recordings of those events with you.

During the online gatherings we discussed a variety of topics, such as the concept of Living Labs, citizen-empowerment, the importance of good practices, and impact assessments and innovation in AHA.

Did you miss the events and do you wish to receive invitations for upcoming webinars directly in your mailbox? Sign up here!  

May we introduce you to the finalists of the Open Call for the Living Lab Testing Scheme?

It is a wrap! The Open Call for the IN-4-AHA Living Lab Testing Scheme has closed for applications. The objective of the IN-4-AHA Open Call is to facilitate the scalability of innovative solutions in active and healthy ageing across EU. It offers testing opportunities and business coaching for innovative and scalable solutions. ​User-centered cross-border testing of selected innovations will be done in e-environments and physical spaces in Finland and Spain.  




Over 25 organizations participated in the IN-4-AHA Open Call and five finalists have now been selected. The objective of IN-4-AHA Open Call was to facilitate the scalability of innovative solutions in active and healthy ageing across EU.

The Open Call and the developing process after selecting the finalists offers testing opportunities and business coaching for innovative and scalable solutions. ​With the finalists, user-centered cross-border testing of selected innovations will be done in e-environments and physical spaces in Finland and Spain.

The finalists will also receive testing opportunities with users in living labs in Finland and Spain, business coaching for scaling up from an international coaching team, and further feedback and reporting. 

Here are the finalists, with whom we will continue the developing process of selected innovations (in alphabetical order): 


AVECEN is the virtual assistant for active ageing of people with neurodegenerative mental illnesses. The objective of the project is the development of a distributed platform that allows self-management of neurodegenerative diseases by patients as well as decision-making by medical professionals and caregivers of their environment. For this, the creation of a dynamic virtual assistant is proposed that continuously monitors and evaluates the execution of certain clinical and lifestyle routines. The assistant is also making recommendations adapted to the patient’s condition and evaluating their frequent or habitual behavior at all times, allowing to understand its evolution over time.

AVECEN is a project led by Plexus Tech, an IT products and services consultancy with more than 20 years of experience in the sector. Other project partners are Arcade Consultores and Insati Innovation.


COQUUS is a software for integrating menus with user-specific informating for healthy eating. The goal of Coquus, developed by Novos Sistemas de Información, is better nourished and happier elderlies. Coquus is a software integrating different menus with their technical sheets, allergens, costs and nutritional assessments with the characteristics of diners such as allergies and tastes, and by combining both decides what each person should take.


ENNA is an operating concept for tablets to facilitate independent digital communication for beginners. Enna by uCare enables digital beginners to communicate independently digitally and to access and use digital content such as entertainment and support. For this purpose, tablet is extended with a haptic operating concept.


Myontec develops smart clothes to motivate elderly people to keep their muscles activated and maintain good balance. Myontec is the cutting-edge wearables company which takes muscle activation technology – electromyography (EMG) – out of the lab, for a new dimension in understanding muscles behavior.


TEMPID SMART PATCH is a body temperature logger with mobile application. TempID Smart Patch is a reusable body temperature logger with mobile application for early detection of health risks, potential infection and other health related issues. The aim is to support remote care and increase efficiency.


Second survey for service providers

Dear service provider!

Are you providing solutions (service, innovation, product) to people 65+ to support active and healthy ageing? Do you wish to share your good practice with peers?

The aim of this survey is to map current practices in data management among the service providers in the active and healthy ageing domain (AHA). The information collected by the survey will be used to create guidelines on the topic.

What’s in it for you? You will receive the aggregated results and contribute to improved know-how  that will be shared within the AHA community.

We invite you to take the survey, if you answer yes to at least 2 of the following points:

  • Your organization has developed an innovative solution for active and healthy ageing such as digital health or care solutions;
  • The end users are seniors (65 years or older), formal or informal caregivers or other organizations providing solution to end users;
  • Your service has been brought to market in at least one EU state, and you aim to scale it up and go outside your home market.

The Innovation Networks for Scaling Active and Healthy Ageing (IN-4-AHA) is a Coordination and Support Action funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme. The EU-funded IN-4-AHA project will enhance the uptake of digital innovations in active and healthy ageing.

Please submit your responses by July 30th, 2021.

IN-4-AHA best practice month!

Active and healthy ageing communities have always been knowledge sharing spaces for experts from all over Europe. Researchers, innovators, policy makers, users, among others joined forces to develop and deliver workable solutions to improve the lives of ageing European citizens.

And so, to both capture both the excellence of our network’s projects, but also provide our consortium with valuable information on how to design and implement good practices, IN-4-AHA is promoting this early summer season as Good Practice month! Between 11 June and 11 July, we invite you to post your best practices on the Futurium platform! Three participants will then be invited to present their work in one of our webinars.

How to participate?

1.      Make sure you have a Futurium account and sign up to one of its subforums on Futurium Active and Healthy Living in the Digital World

2.      Post your good practice in the Best Practices section. Following the posting guidelines is recommended (Length – 10 lines; TRL level of the developed solution; where, by whom and how the solution has been created, tested, and deployed; link to full information, video, or other graphic material)

3.      Use the IN4AHA hashtag (#IN4AHA) – You can type it out manually in the “tags” box and the system will accept it. It may not be in the suggestions at first but it you will still be able to add it

4.      Done!

The deadline for sharing best practices is extended until 12 July COB.