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SUSTAINS project shifts into high gear

The SUSTAINS project, which has officially started this year, held  its second consortium  meeting on 7 May in Copenhagen. The main objective was to get an update of the state of play of SUSTAINS’ services implementation in the 11 participating countries/regions and to take decisions on important horizontal issues that are relevant to the work EPF is leading as a member of the SUSTAINS consortium.
As a reminder, this three-year project’s objective is to develop and deploy a basket of services in 11 European regions providing patients’ access to Electronic Health Records (EHR). SUSTAINS comprises several administrative and clinical services rather different from one another. The common denominator in terms of usage is that they are all designed to be used by the citizens/patients from their home or wherever they happen to be, provided they have access to Internet. More information about the project can be found here.

EPF’s main role in this project is to lead the work on patient empowerment assessment and user requirements identification through a series of focus groups

The partners assessed very positively the outcomes of the user requirements focus groups involving patients, health professionals, citizens and informal carers. The purpose of these focus groups was to ensure that the SUSTAINS services are aligned to the largest extent possible to the needs and expectations of patients and meet the requirements of health professionals.

The consortium reaffirmed the importance of integrating these requirements and concerns of the end users in the design and development of the SUSTAINS services. This will ultimately lead to strengthening the acceptance of these services among patients and health professionals, thereby contributing to their sustainability after the project life-cycle. They therefore agreed that a second round of focus groups should be organised in 2013-2014 in order to gather user experience after a certain period of service usage.

“Involving patients and health professionals through user requirements focus groups proved to be a very useful exercise for us to understand how the planned services can be improved to better match users’ needs and expectations”, analysed Josu Xabier Llano Hernaiz, from the Dirección General del Ente Público Osakidetza –Servicio vasco de salud.

This meeting also helped reach an agreement on the evaluation methodology to be used to assess impact of the services in terms of economic, medical, organisational, and patient-related aspects.

EPF is currently preparing a report of the user requirements focus groups’ outcomes. Our next task is to find out with individual countries and regions to what extent will the recommendations made by patients and health professionals be integrated in SUSTAINS’ services development.

On the other hand EPF is also developing the questionnaire to assess patient empowerment. This questionnaire will be based on a number of key empowerment indicators that will be derived from state-of-the-art scientific literature.

The next meeting of the Consortium is planned for late September in San Sebastian (Basque Country, Spain).