Employing Service Design for Digital Transformation


Illustrations by Lia Purnamasari

Our insights from the joint-study between UN Global Pulse through Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ), UNICEF Indonesia, and the Ministry of Health (MoH) through the Directorate of Nutrition Surveillance, shed light on the implementation gaps of Indonesia’s national nutrition information system, known as e-PPGBM, that could inform the broader agenda of digital transformation in Indonesia’s healthcare sector. Using service design as our methodology, we looked into specific barriers at each phase of e-PPGBM utilization holistically. Our study was timely as it coincided with the Ministry’s transformation of the healthcare sector, providing us the opportunity to share these insights with the Ministry’s Digital Transformation Office.

The importance of service design in supporting digital transformation agenda

In our previous blog on “Applying Service Design to Support Data Analytics for Decision Making,” we shared our stance on service design as a methodology and how we translate it into our work to complement big data analytics. Service design acts as a comprehensive lens through which a service can be assessed by systems mapping, identifying gaps, and understanding the needs of all components to design potential solutions and better innovative services. It can also be used as a starting point for designing new services, such as analytical dashboards, to identify the needs of both users and broader stakeholders, or in evaluating existing services to understand the challenges and areas that need improvement to come up with tangible solutions.

Service design becomes more relevant than ever in times of digital transformation, which goes beyond mere adoption of new technologies or digitalization of existing services. When the government or development partners transform their ways of working by adopting new digital tools, it also requires the transformation of peoples’ mindsets, organizational culture, and infrastructure, among others. Digital transformation is a multifaceted and multistakeholder process and understanding the needs of each stakeholder impacted by these changes is critical. Therefore, it is essential to underscore that it is not an overnight process; rather, it is an incremental change that requires time for people to adapt to new ways of doing things.

Applying service design to evaluate an existing service

We outlined our research process and key insights from our assessment of e-PPGBM’s implementation gaps in our earlier article. Leveraging service design throughout our research process, we focused on understanding how e-PPGBM operates and delivers its services from data measurement, collection, entry, retrieval, analysis, and designing appropriate interventions. In wrapping up the study, there are several important lessons we want to highlight about the methodology from a practical standpoint.

Using service design gave us a holistic view in evaluating e-PPGBM as an existing service. Beyond understanding the linear processes from data collection to follow-up actions, we also got a closer look at the relationship and interaction between people across units, their experience using the application, and the support they received to work effectively. In the e-PPGBM context, we learned about the interactions between the main users of the application, including nutritionist officers and district or provincial health offices, at each touchpoint.

By zooming in on a specific phase of the service through field observation and discerning the dynamics between the Puskesmas, district, and provincial health offices, we learned how Puskesmas nutrition officers shouldered a heavy daily workload (see Illustration 1), from supporting Posyandu cadres to measure nutritional indicators of children and conducting additional field visits, to having to work overtime to complete data entry.

Illustration 1. A closer look at the daily activities of Puskesmas’ nutritionists. Illustration by Lia Purnamasari

Employing service design enabled us to design strategic actionable recommendations that address multiple layers of the service, including the products, ways of working, and policies. In the process of drawing up recommendations, the research team learned that the Ministry launched the Digital Health Transformation Strategy blueprint. Being cognizant of the possibility that e-PPGBM will be transformed into an integrated healthcare ecosystem, we ensured that our recommendations support this agenda. Further details of how we implemented service design in this study can be accessed in the full report below:

Download the report here

Knowledge sharing with the Digital Transformation Office (DTO)

Drawing on the lessons from the e-PPGBM study, we had a knowledge sharing session to understand how service design can be applied to their goal of transforming the healthcare sector in Indonesia. The discussion reiterated how a holistic approach can give a more comprehensive view of the broader ecosystem, and more specifically, the importance of shifting mindsets to view health technology products not simply as a reporting tool but as a service.

Throughout the discussion, the Lab shared a similar view that in synchronizing the healthcare system in the country, nutritionist officers should not be the ones to solely carry a heavy workload. Furthermore, we exchanged our perspectives on how Satu Sehat may be a starting point to better distribute the load of these officers and reduce tedious data entry processes.

The Digital Transformation Office (DTO) visiting PLJ for knowledge sharing. Photo by Swastika Harefa

Harnessing digital transformation for development requires concerted effort and collaboration between stakeholders. The e-PPGBM study is one of the ways that the Lab has contributed to supporting the digital transformation agenda in Indonesia, and PLJ looks forward to engaging in more collaborations in the years to come.

The research on Assessing the Implementation of Indonesia’s National Nutrition Information System (e-PPGBM) was a collaborative effort between UN Global Pulse through Pulse Lab Jakarta, UNICEF Indonesia and the Indonesian Ministry of Health. Let us know about your experiences in applying service design or in advancing the digital transformation agenda. Get in touch with us at plj@un.or.id.

Author: Rizqi Ashfina (Social Systems Researcher) with editorial support from Andini Kamayana (Communication Manager).

UN Global Pulse — Pulse Lab Jakarta Project Team for e-PPGBM study: Aaron Situmorang (Research Manager), Lia Purnamasari (Design Researcher), Rizqi Ashfina (Social Systems Researcher), Maesy Angelina (former Social Systems Lead) and Rajius Idzalika (Data Scientist).

Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support from the Government of Australia



UN Global Pulse Asia Pacific
United Nations Global Pulse Asia Pacific

UN Global Pulse Asia Pacific is a regional hub that aims to drive data innovation and sustainable development to ensure that no one is left behind.