SmartCare Final Meeting – Towards Better Integrated Care
EPF Junior Project Officer Danielle Flores attended the SmartCare Final Conference in Trieste, Italy, on July 6. This conference was the final meeting of the three year EU project. Time is now to reap the results for a better integrated care!
The SmartCare project aims to define a common set of standard functional specifications for an open information communication technology (ICT) platform enabling the delivery of integrated care to older European citizens. The SmartCare partners presented the project outcomes, covering the results of the evaluation of the SmartCare services piloted in nine European regions.
EPF was involved in the project as a member of the User Advisory Board, which acted as advisor by focusing on the patient perspective and liaising at European and national level through its organisations and networks. Representatives from the related ICT projects CareWell and Beyond Silos were also at the conference to present the synergies between the three projects.
The partners discussed the challenge of getting older patients to feel comfortable using ICT programmes and devices like smart phones, in addition to the problems of internet connectivity for more remote parts of the EU. Increasing digital literacy among older citizens will be one way to address this challenge. Project partners also discussed the socio-economic and business aspects of up-scaling integrated care in the EU. The project results did show that with the increase in monitoring and self-management through ICT, there was a decrease in hospital stays among the participating patients.
One message that all the presenters and partners upheld is that ICT supports integrated care but does not simply replace people or the human factor of healthcare. ICT is not just new services but rather a new level of cooperation and collaboration between care providers.
The idea of “transmural care”, or care the does not stop at the hospital walls, will demand a huge culture shift to become the standard practice in healthcare. The results of this final conference showed that the benefits of this change in the care model will be well worth the effort.
Danielle Flores, Junior Project Officer.