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Telemedicine solutions of tomorrow waiting in the wings

30-09-2015 News UK

Funding now in place for five projects aiming to test telemedicine solutions on new groups of patients in Denmark.

Will rehabilitation at home, aided by software and sensors, increase the motivation of patients? Could young diabetics benefit from an app when trying to control their blood glucose, and thereby gain a higher degree of freedom in their lives? These are some of the questions that new projects funded by the Danish Public Welfare Technology Fund seek to answer.

New groups of patients to test telemedicine
The Danish Government, Local Government Denmark and Danish Regions have come together in promoting the Strategy for Digital Welfare (2013-2020). Wound assessment through telemedicine solutions is already being implemented across Denmark. Thus, now is the time to test and evaluate new telemedicine solutions. The evaluation include questions such as: How do the costs compare to the costs of traditional solutions? How will healthcare personnel work when consultations are done through a video feed?

To answer these questions, funds have been allocated in the Strategy for Digital Welfare so that municipalities and regions may execute and evaluate new projects testing telemedicine on new groups of patients. This year five projects have received funding, and they will run through 2015-2018. If the results are positive in regards to patient welfare and public expenditure, these solutions may very well be implemented across Denmark in the future.

Read more about the Strategy for Digital Welfare

The five projects
The following five projects have been allocated funding:

Rehabilitation at home to free up resources

Danish municipalities face an aging population in coming years which means fewer resources per citizen. This project aims to demonstrate how digitally supported rehabilitation of selected groups may free up resources. In addition to this, the project aims to secure tailored and intensive treatment plans for citizens, to be preventive and hopefully reduce the number of re-hospitalizations. Training equipment and software from selected suppliers will facilitate rehabilitation in the citizens’ own home in a flexible way. This way citizens may actively engage in their own rehabilitation as and when it fits their own schedule.

Project participants: The Capital Region, Frederikssund Municipality, Gribskov Municipality and Hillerød Municipality.

App helping young diabetics mastering their condition
With all the pressures of being young and active, young diabetics struggle to manage their chronic illness in a satisfactory manner. The Young with Diabetes Project evaluates an app for type 1 diabetics. The app is an innovative way of helping patients living with a chronic illness. Amongst other features is a mentorship program for the patients, as well as a direct link to the relevant hospital and healthcare personnel. The overall goal is to help young diabetics master their condition and, in particular, improve their long-term blood glucose and quality of life.

Project participants: The Capital Region and Region Zealand.

Home monitoring of heart patients
More and more people suffer from heart problems and in the last 15 years the number of hospitalizations has doubled.  Through systematic home monitoring, the project aims to detect deteriorations in the condition of patients at an earlier stage to reduce the number of hospitalizations and time spent in the doctor’s office.

Project participants: The North Denmark Region and all 11 municipalities in the region.

Virtual clinic to improve quality of life with fewer resources
In endocrinological clinics, diabetics and patients suffering from metabolic diseases or lime diseases such as osteoporosis are treated. This group of patients is expected to increase in coming years. By doing 20,000 consultations through a video feed instead of actual visits to the clinics, the project aims to free up resources for the growing number of patients.

Project participants: Two endocrinological clinics in the Region of Southern Denmark and the Region of Zealand.  

Home monitoring to prevent acute hospitalizations of senior medical patients
Senior citizens face an increased risk of illnesses requiring hospitalization. In as little as 20 years the number of citizens aged 80+ in Denmark will have doubled. Through video-consultations between citizens and their general practitioners, supported by equipment for monitoring blood pressure and heart rate, the project aims to strengthen the basis for decisions on whether hospitalization is required or treatment can be provided in ordinary clinics.

Project participants: The Region of Southern Denmark and Svendborg Municipality