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SmartCare: Visit of the Aragon’s pilot site

© Picture: Google - Barbastro Health Center, Aragon region, Spain

As a member of the SmartCare project’s User Advisory Board (UAB), we took part in the first site visit in late 2014 in the Barbastro area, Aragon region, Spain. We wanted to get an in-depth understanding of how integrated care services are delivered locally and get feedback from all actors involved: patients, informal carers, health professionals, social workers, and volunteers.

SmartCare promotes a more integrated and effective approach to providing health and social care to older people across Europe. The project installed several pilot sites all across Europe to test integrated care pathways that are supported by Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The project’s User Advisory Board   undertook to conduct a series of site visits to evaluate the user experience and involvement in the services.

The example of the Aragon Region

In recent years the Aragon region has put in place a very comprehensive ICT infrastructure in support of healthcare services. Several telemedicine services are now in routine use in this region which is characterised by a very sparse and ageing population.

 “During the site visit we had the opportunity to visit two patients living in a rural area and meet several health professionals as well as social workers from the Red Cross and the Alzheimer association taking care of the social aspects of care delivery” described Walter Atzori, EPF Senior Programme Officer. “They were very enthusiastic about the services as they see a great window of opportunity there to improve the quality of care while keeping an eye on the sustainability   of health and social care services”, he continued.

We realised with the Aragon experience that it is actually possible to deliver integrated health and social care without necessarily making fundamental changes to the organisation and delivery of care. From a service delivery point of view, the main change is about enabling the various actors to work together in a coordinated way. Enhancing the role of informal carers, including relatives, social providers, and patients themselves are all critical factors behind the success of any integrated care provision.

Next visits are planned in South Karelia (Finland), Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy), and South Denmark.

Contact: EPF Senior Programme Officer, Walter Atori (walter.atzori@eu-patient.eu).