The Digital Health Centre

The project improves quality of life for people with a chronical illness by developing and integrating digital solutions in the education of patients. It supplements the physical training but replaces the traditional education in a health centre and offers patients a far more flexible solution. Patients can participate in webinars from home and chat with healthcare professionals and other patients. The use of digital solutions results in both resource optimization and patient empowerment.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

More and more citizens are living with a chronic condition, and for the individual this can minimize the ability to lead a fulfilling life. At the same time the increase in patients puts a pressure on the resources within the healthcare system. A factor in the development of chronic illnesses is unhealthy lifestyles and inequality in health.

The digital health centre project is focused on supporting citizens with type 2 diabetes and/or heart conditions. The main tasks of the municipal health centres are to provide health promotion and disease prevention aimed at the citizens. This is e.g. done through guidance and counselling on a healthy lifestyle. The focus is on providing tools, motivation and support for self-managing a change of their lifestyle and routines. They also create network possibilities for citizens, as well as provide knowledge to health organisations in the civil society. They support rehabilitation after interventions at the hospital and offer preventive home visits to citizens above the age of 75. The health centres employ nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists and doctors.

The challenges for the health centres are:

• Increase in the number of at-risk citizens
• Difficulties engaging the citizens in patient education (for geographic, economic, physical or time reasons)
• Maintaining lifestyle changes has proved very challenging

The limited accessibility and flexibility in the traditional social care services is not compatible with the fact that many citizens have geographical, economical, physical and time limitations. In some cases there are large distances between the patients’ home and the health care centre, and often the services are only available during working hours where many patients are at work. Some patients are unable to use public transportation and some are uncomfortable with group sessions. So there are many reasons why many patients do not attend or drop out of the traditional patient courses offered to help them understand and control their chronic disease. At the same time studies show that the motivation for lifestyle changes are dynamic and often vary over time making it necessary for flexible and long-term services. At the moment this is hard to provide as a lot of the smaller municipalities only have a limited amount of resources available.

The vision of The Digital Healthcare Center is to contribute to solving some of the challenges described above by integrating digital solutions in the social care sector’s services within prevention and health promotion. The vision’s overall aim is to:

1. Increase flexibility and accessibility of the services of the social care sector’s health centres
2. Ensure that lifestyle changes are maintained by developing differentiated services and thereby increasing the citizens’ motivation
3. Support resource optimisation by enabling health care professionals across municipality lines to collaborate on digital services reaching more patients and ensuring that more patients are able to support themselves

The first part of the Digital Health Centre is the Digital Patient Education. This part had two purposes:

1. To develop, test a nd scale up digital services for patient education for citizens with type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease
2. To experiment with different applications to communicate health information in relation to preventative measures in the local health care centres

Two Patient Education Programs called “Live your life with diabetes” and “Live your life with heart disease” has already been successfully implemented and tested. The Patient Education Program consists of three supporting elements:

1. Individual contact between the citizen and the healthcare professional, start- and end sessions
2. Help-to-selfhelp in the form of a series of e-learning modules
3. Online group sessions facilitated by healthcare professionals as webinars

Results of the project so far have been good with higher user satisfaction, fewer drop-outs and more efficient use of healthcare resources. Since the smaller municipalities can join together to produce content to the online-platform and therapists can be used to a wide range of citizens from different areas resources can be better used. Patients that do not like to be in physical sessions with others can join and they have the possibility to go back and revisit the information when they are motivated to implement a change.

The project is now in operation in more than 12 municipalities in the Region of Southern Denmark and is planned to be scaled out nationally in 2020. The perspectives of the solution are wide and include the possibilities for both a geographical spread and the inclusion of more disease areas.

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