01 September 2015
- Healthcare, - Digital Health

The United4Health User Policy Advisory Board (UPAB) met on the 6th of July to discuss the health condition of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), one of the three core chronic conditions addressed by United4Health. United4Health is a project partially funded under the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) to promote the introduction of telehealth solutions in healthcare through the deployment of pilot services targeting Diabetes, COPD, and Cardiovascular disease.

During the meeting, the use of different technologies in treating COPD was discussed, supported by two documents developed by participants: a collection of (17) references on the use of telemonitoring with COPD patients and the EFA Harmonizing Prevention and Other Measures for COPD Patients Across Europe, which provides a current overview of the situation in 17 European countries. 

The United4Health project presented then the findings of its four local pilot sites targeting COPD (Galicia, Norway, Scotland, and Wales) and the Maccabi Health Services Multidisciplinary Medical Call center (MOMA) as well as the outcomes of the 2014 Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technologies (MALT) study (which focused partly on COPD), undertaken in South Yorkshire, England.

All sites presented difficulties with the technologies when introducing telehealth services in healthcare, leading to apreference for simpler technologies. Another challenge seems to be having separate organisational levels for hospital and community care, and separate budgets for regions and municipalities. A particular observation was about the facilitation of positive experiences whenever a single payer/provider was involved. The situation seemed easiest in Galicia, where there is only one payer/organisation that provides both community and hospital care. Moreover payer organizations are crucial in facilitating the shift from a project phase to a large-scale project, therefore it is fundamental to explore how to address the barriers implicit in the different payers models throughout Europe regarding eHealth implementation.

After the presentations, attendees discussed the deployment lessons learned from telehealth “doers”, managers and decision-makers perspective as well as from telehealth-related health and care professionals perspective. Some relevant aspects came up after this session: the technological infrastructure challenge, the importance of putting in place business models and change management processes, the need to strengthen healthcare professionals ICT literacy and skills, the impact of telehealth on nursing empowerment, the need for investing financial resources. These points will be refined and transformed into policy messages in Autumn 2015.

United4Heatlh UPAB will meet again in September and November 2015 and will finalise the policy messages in view of the end of the project due in December 2015. 

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