More people are living longer with chronic diseases. The EU-funded project USECARE AAL targets those older adults living with diabetes, heart or respiratory disease. Objective: to evaluate an electronic self-management support system.
What is eHealth?
A range of definitions exist related to information and communication technologies (ICT) respectively consumer-facing technologies. eHealth is one such umbrella term. It is considered an easy scalable and low cost approach that may reach many people. Furthermore, it has the potential to address individual challenges and consequences when living with chronic conditions.
eHealth provides healthcare solutions by using digital technologies such as mobile phones, computers, wireless digital devices etc. The goal is to optimize healthcare delivery by
- providing a higher degree of patient self-control
- fitting flexible solutions into everyday life
- monitoring symptoms 24 hours everyday
- supporting patient and informal caregiver engagement
- having secure data storage
- ensuring a rich data flow
The following video provides answers on the question «What is eHealth?»:
© eHealth Industries Innovation Centre (2012)
More people live with chronic diseases
The number of people living with a chronic disease is growing globally. Switzerland is no exception. Almost every 2nd person aged 50 years or older lives with at least one chronic disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer, cardiovascular- and respiratory diseases and diabetes mellitus are the four major chronic diseases. The distribution of such diseases is reflected in Switzerland.Here, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are cause more than half of all deaths, followed by respiratory diseases (COPD) and diabetes mellitus (see following figure on WHO country profile Switzerland, PDF, 111 kB).
Chronic diseases require daily monitoring and management of symptoms. This may have great practical and psychological impact on everyday life. For instance, people with diabetes have to control their blood sugar several times per day due to the risk of hypoglycemia. Such circumstances can affect quality of life and may limit everyday activities. Additionally, family members and friends experience psychological and physical consequences as they often are close support persons.
Find out more on chronic diseases or eHealth – Swiss National Health Report 2015 (in German, PDF, 3.1MB), aging with multimorbidity (review), impact on family caregivers (review) or eHealth effects on healthcare outcomes (Cochrane review).
Field-testing an eHealth tool in 3 countries
Consumer-facing devices could support people in their chronic disease self-management, if the technology is accepted. Here is the link to the Use Cases for Informal Care Ambient Assisted Living (USECARE AAL) project. It aims to field-test and evaluate the electronic self-management support system «SENior health ACAdemy» (SENACA) in relation to patient acceptance, process parameters and clinical outcomes.
SENACA is a web platform with several interacting components linked to tele-monitoring, peer-to-peer interacting and individual health plans, -logbook and evidence-based health information. The system enables wireless connectivity and the participants have 24 hours access to their biometric data via home computers and mobile devices (tablets, smart phones etc.). The different components of the system include disease specific information, nutrition, social interaction elements for motivational support and behavior change elements.
The USECARE AAL project will provide deeper understanding of patients’ and informal caregivers’ readiness and acceptability of electronic interventions in healthcare delivery. This will provide insights for further adjustments of SENACA (and eHealth in general) on an empirical and valid basis, which may help to better address the needs of people living with chronic diseases.
eHealth self-management support: the future?
What is your opinion on eHealth and self-management support in chronic illness?
What are your experiences, recommendations and comments to a project like USECARE AAL?
What is important to consider if eHealth tools are developed respectively used as healthcare solutions for people living with chronic diseases?
I am looking forward to your input and thoughts!
USECARE AAL – funding and collaborators USECARE AAL is funded by the Active and Assisted Living Programme of the European Commission. The consortium consists of organizations from different European countries plus Isreal. Israel: Aussuta Medical Center, Tel Aviv Italy: Institute for Health and Consumer Protection IHCP, Ispra Norway: University Hospital North Norway, Tromsoe; University of Oslo, Dept. of Health Management & Health Economics Spain: Open University of Catalonia UOC, Barcelona Soluciones Tecnologicas para la Salud y el Bienestar, TSB, Valentia Switzerland: Institute of Nursing Science, University of Basel; Research Institute at the Careum School of Health, Zurich; European Medical Network EMN, Kilchberg