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Design thinking for public sector health schemes

Emerging Insight #:


Date of Release:

  March 21, 2018


  Renewals, Improving value, Health, Transaction processing


  The Facility

The experience of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) in Ghana took on the design sprint methodology to tackle one important barrier for its users. Currently, in order to renew their membership of the National Health Insurance Scheme, members have to queue at NHIA district offices. With nearly 11 million members, this process is an administrative burden on the scheme and cumbersome for members.

Therefore, since May 2017, the NHIA partnered with the Facility to expand population coverage of the National Health Insurance Scheme by designing a simplified user-friendly digital renewal process.

To do so, the team decided to use the design sprint process – a step-by-step model that guides teams through a shortened, creative design process of just three to five days. The steps are outlined below:

The process was found to be more efficient – both in quickly creating relevant solutions, and in improving and refining these solutions earlier in the pilot process.

To begin with, the intense process of gathering insights, building personas, ideation and prototype testing led to a much deeper and broader understanding of the change that was needed. For example, the NHIA team realised that meeting the needs of district office front-line staff was as important to its success as meeting the needs of its members. With a clearer understanding of what was needed, and in just six days, NHIA staff developed mobile renewal and digital authentication prototypes, communication prototypes in three languages, and gathered insights from around 50 users using not much more than a smart phone, computer and an empty plastic box! In summary, design thinking allowed clever use of limited resources to develop viable solutions that could be tested immediately.

The sprint became the basis of a more extensive design process, in which prototypes were tested with additional users and their feedback incorporated through several rounds of refinements. NHIA believes that had they used a traditional process of brainstorming and piloting, they would have identified similar refinements much later in the process, at which point, implementing them would have been much more costly.

The design sprint proved a valuable basis for a more efficient and agile design process at NHIA. For more information on how design thinking can be used for innovation in public sector health schemes, watch our webinar recording.