The social capacity, knowledge and acceptance to utilise eHealth technologies of citizens and medical professionals is a basic condition for the implementation and further generation of innovative technologies for the health sector. However, the absorption of new knowledge and acceptance to use eHealth technologies is varying remarkably among citizens and medical professionals and needs to be strengthened in all partner regions.
eHealth technologies allow a mutually beneficial collaboration and involvement of patients and medical professionals in prevention and treatment. eHealth technologies empower patients to take more responsibility for their own health and quality of life and lead to better cost-efficiency in the health sector.
A consequence of ageing population is more citizens with chronic diseases especially among elderly in all partner regions. Thus prevention and treatment of chronic diseases is an important market and implementation area for innovative eHealth technologies.
Although basic eHealth technology is widely available on the market, the project partners consider a deployment problem in the health care sector. A main barrier is a lack of social capacity and acceptance by citizens and medical professionals to utilise eHealth technology.
Thus the overall aim of the project is that citizens with chronic diseases and medical professionals in the partner regions have the capacity and knowledge as well as the acceptance to use eHealth technologies in prevention and treatment by the year 2012.
The project analyses the impact of the ageing population on the health care systems and identifies and shares strategies in raising the capacity to utilise eHealth in prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. The findings will be widely disseminated in a international conference 'Acceptance matters' with stakeholders from policy, health sector and industry from the BSR.
The project has three pilot implementations with following main outputs:
A comprehensive self-monitoring system for chronic heart failure patients (WP4), Education content for better utilisation of eHealth by medical professionals and citizens (WP5) and a multi-lingual personal health portal enabling citizens with chronic diseases to document electronically their health data supporting their mobility abroad (WP6). All developed standardised solutions will be transferred and offered to health care providers and the general public in the BSR through a network of distributors and multipliers.
The project partnership is composed of professionals from hospitals, universities, regional administrations for health care planning, municipalities as well as telemedicine experts from the BSR. The project benefits from the eHealth for Regions network and its Political Strategic Board set up during an INTERREG IIIB project for awareness building and dissemination. The eHealth for Regions network activities are run and financed independently from this project proposal.
In the last project period the partners concentrated on finalising their pilot runs. The pilot “Comprehensive self-monitoring system for chronic heart failure patients” measured the outcome and effectiveness within a clinical trial. The results showed that remote monitoring and the eLearning program were very positively accepted, while the electronic patient record was less popular. Patient motivation declines over time. Patients need regular personal contact. There are now devices on the market which can transmit measurements directly into a patient’s iPad which then sends a weekly summary to the treating centre. This offers a good combination of self-monitoring and remote check-ups. The second pilot run concerned “Multi-lingual personal health portal enabling citizens with chronic diseases to electronically document their health data, thereby supporting their mobility abroad”. A fully functional portal with innovative features was developed.
Portal usage and test scenarios enable pilot usage in the real environment in every partner country, allowing partners to compare experiences and find ways to solve the cross-border problems of health communication in the Baltic Sea Region. Implemented functionalities of the portal substantially increase the safety of patients with health risks while travelling, ensuring access to vital information wherever they are, and thus diminishing the risk of adverse health events occurring. The portal concept is ideal for the promotion of eHealth and the empowerment of patients to take more care of their own health, in changing their lifestyles and becoming more aware of their health status and its long-time implications. Additionally the partners developed the ‘eHealth for citizen portal’ (www.ehealth4citizen.eu). That portal shows in simple words and easy navigation the many different possibilities of using eHealth technologies.
The aim of the project was not only to find out if medical professionals and patients accept eHealth technologies if they are better informed. But also to put the issue on the political agenda. As it is important to convince relevant stakeholders from politics, the health sector, patient associations, universities and industry. Therefore the eHealth Acceptance Conference 2012 was organised in Brussels (www.ehealthacceptance2012.net). Already the broadly disseminated invitation and marketing on several event calendars increased the level of awareness about the subject. The international event itself gave a good insight into the project findings, especially the developed seven dimensions of eHealth Acceptance helped to structure the discussion (eReadiness, credibility, usability, perceived usefulness, data security, integrity of data, cost-effectiveness). All findings were finally summarized in the Final Report – a twelve pages publication which is available in printed and digital form.