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Implementing eHealth solutions in healthcare; what are the next steps

February 22 2019

For years now, eHealth has been seen as an effective way to improve the quality of healthcare and to reduce costs. This may look like a panacea, but direction is needed to implement the new solutions and make it a real success. According to the eHealth monitor 2018 of Nictiz and Nivel, awareness is growing.

Room for improvement in implementation of eHealth solutions 

The use of eHealth solutions and its awareness among health care users and providers varies per category:

  • Online access (the possibility for healthcare users to view their medical data online): although this option is hardly used yet, the research shows that both health care users and caregivers find this option desirable; one third of the caregivers are afraid this option might lead to negative effects, such as discussions with patients about the content of their file;
  • Online contact options: the possibilities have increased enormously and also the use by health care users is increasing rapidly;
  • Self-management and personal health environment provide plenty of room for growth: a mere 34% of health care users digitally track their physical activity and over one third of caregivers have not heard of a personal digital health environment before;
  • Guidance and remote support in elderly care have grown from 53% in 2014 to 81% in 2018;
  • Electronic communication between care providers: exchanging patient data in a standardized electronic manner increases in general and hospital care, but not in elderly care.

Plenty of eHealth projects

On the development side there is more than enough going on. Care-related digitization projects, varying from ‘serious games’ to train healthcare staff or to help patients rehabilitate, ICT solutions to move care from hospital to home situation and online training tools are regularly launched. Two factors play an important role here:

  • Crossover: eHealth solutions are a textbook example of cross-sectoral innovation between healthcare and other sectors like ICT (online software for self-help applications) or high tech (home automation or hardware solutions for self-help)
  • Valorisation: successful eHealth innovation requires effective implementation, scaling-up and valorisation. For example, in the Northern Netherlands, a field lab has been set up in which initiatives and experiences can be visualized and knowledge can be disclosed.

To underline the importance of valorisation, the eHealth monitor states that a clear vision, policy and agenda are necessary for a more rapid increase in the implementation of eHealth solutions. Also, both care providers and users should be trained in using these applications. In our experience, eHealth projects in which these aspects are taken into account, have a greater chance of success.

New incentive scheme; eHealth at home (‘E-health Thuis’)

An up-to-date incentive scheme is E-health Thuis (Stimuleringsregeling E-health Thuis, SET). This scheme is open for applications from 1 March 2019, and is intended for scaling up and safeguarding existing eHealth applications that help older people and people with a chronic illness or disability to stay at home longer. Examples include sensors to detect falling, electronic key solutions, remote wound care, and technology that enables informal caregivers to keep a close eye on their loved ones from a distance.

This subsidy can be applied for by WMO support providers of ‘Zvw or Wlz-zorgthuis’, together with one or more purchasers of support and care, and is intended for activities such as training clients and healthcare professionals, making a business case and offering work processes. It is expected that around 280 initiatives can be subsidized with the subsidy budget. If you would like to know more about this scheme or about our support in the development of eHealth innovation, get in touch by filling out the form below:

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