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City academics contribute to new Philips-led telehealth program

Professor Stanton Newman and colleagues provide their expertise to European project

by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

A Philips-led consortium of leading companies, universities, hospitals and healthcare authorities have released a new program for large-scale deployment of coordinated care and telehealth aimed at addresses the EU’s aging population and burden of managing chronic conditions.

Including academics from City University London, the Advancing Care Coordination and Telehealth Deployment (ACT) Program is the result from a two-and-a-half year scientific evaluation of data from different connected health programs in five European regions. It provides new insights that apply across the EU on why certain telehealth programs are more successful than others.

As part of the project the City team were responsible for the analysis of the Healthcare Organisations in the ACT group and conducted an examination of the extent to which the structure and activities of the organisation supported a move to co-ordinated care and/or telehealth. The details of the organisation were analysed in relation to the perceptions of managers and frontline staff and also on the impact organisational structure and functions had on patients.

Connected care is seen by many governments as essential to enable more efficient, patient-centric and continuous care for the aging EU population; however, although many local connected care pilot programs are successful, they fail to scale and their potential impact is not fully leveraged.

The consortium researched data from patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes and heart failure in programs in the Basque Country (Spain), Catalonia (Spain), Scotland (UK), North of the Netherlands, and Lombardy (Italy) and conducted 2,500 surveys and group interviews with participating patients and care providers.

The consortium, which was led by Philips, found that the scalability of care coordination and telehealth is possible, but requires significant organisational change to successfully execute the process. It also unveiled critical areas in which progress is required in order to enable the transformation to more sustainable healthcare systems.

The program also advises that patients are assigned a single point of contact when enrolled in care coordination programs with several institutions and care providers to prevent them from feeling lost and diverging advices.

Staff engagement is critical as in programs where staff understanding and engagement levels were high patient adherence was better compared to programs with lower engagement scores. Preventative care programs outperform reactive healthcare delivery. Improved standardisation and interoperability within the European Union would enable benchmarking and leveraging successful programs beyond local pilots.

Speaking about the project, Professor Stanton Newman, Dean of the School of Health Sciences and one of the key partners in the project, said:

“Successful coordinated care and telehealth are principally about organisational change. To achieve the best outcomes for patients, we need to review the way these organisations are structured and make sure everyone is aligned on the objectives and goals of integrating care coordination and telehealth into patient care pathways.”

Andrus Ansip, Vice President of Digital Single Market, European Commission, said:

“A significant portion of our population is 65 years or older, and managing chronic conditions continues to put stress on our healthcare systems. Smarter use of innovation is crucial in order to enable active aging and healthy living. The ACT-program illustrates care coordination and telehealth can be very successful instruments to address care needs. The program will inspire the necessary debate on system transformation and will help with the scaling of future connected health programs.”

The project is available for download and more information can be found on the ACT Program’s website: www.act-programme.eu

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