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Safer care with digital solutions

Published: 19 June 2018

Technique facilitates the elderly's everyday lives and frees human resources so that businesses can handle future demographic trends. It shows the results of the RemoAge project, which has developed and tested new working methods with digital solutions for three years.

– Different digital devices that patients and users have access to, such as mobile security alarms with GPS and security camera provide increased quality of life. The result shows increased security, independence and physical activity, which allows them to live at home, says Ingela Johansson, Regional Project Manager on the Region of Norrbotten.

Nine digital services tested

The aging population in Sweden and the world is getting bigger and the resources in health care and are getting smaller. Until the year 2026, the number of persons aged 65 years and upwards is expected to rise by a quarter of a million, most of which are 80 years or older. In order to ensure safe and equal care, the use of technology is an opportunity to cope with the demographic challenge.

In Norrbotten, several pilot studies were carried out in collaboration between the Norrbotten region and the municipalities of Norrbotten, where Luleå Technical University's role was to study the ethical perspective of use technology and responsibility for communication. The project involved 11 out of 14 municipalities with associated healthcare. Over 200 patients and users have participated in the pilots and 400 staff have been trained in new working methods and technologies. Within the project, nine different services have been tested for six to eight months, of which eight services are partially implemented in the operations.

Human resources are used more efficiently

The objectives at the individual level were to increase the safety of patients, users and relatives, and that patients would feel more independent and involved in their own care and healthcare. The evaluation shows that the project achieved these goals at the individual level and that the elderly consider that the technology facilitated their everyday lives.

One of the goals for the organisations was to see if the introduction of new working methods with the help of digitization could strengthen cooperation between the Region and municipalities as well as release human resources so that the businesses can handle future demographic developments.

The staff have developed common routines in the various pilot studies, which in turn reinforced cooperation between healthcare providers. The experience is that they can make safer and safer assessments. Several actors can attend the same meeting, which provides a more coherent and equal care in the county.

– The results show that remote care, even with a smaller number of users and patients, releases large human resources in sparsely populated areas. The reduced travel leads to an improved work environment and human resources can be used more efficiently, says Marja-Leena Komulainen, regional project manager at Norrbotten Municipalities.

Implementing new working methods takes time

Evaluation of experience of new technology shows that technology is an opportunity and a prerequisite for meeting the challenges of the future in care and care. Distance consulting is a natural complement to personal meeting and technology a good tool in the workplace.

– All changes will take time and requires endurance, training and support. Both patients, users, relatives and staff felt that the technology was easy to use and was positively determined to continue using technology. One experience was that the technique did not work as  if the person had a long-standing dementia, mental illness or severe hearing loss, says Ingela Johansson.

The good results have inspired municipalities that did not participate in the project to introduce the same working methods in their respective municipalities.

One of the biggest challenges for the continued work is the technical fear of the staff. Other challenges are the lack of infrastructure, such as broadband or WIFI, technical equipment is not available or lacking local support from the IT device.
– In order to implement the work, all professions need to use the new way of working and technology in their daily work, says Marja-Leena Komulainen.