Digital initiatives to support person-centred, integrated care: key learnings for their deployment in Europe

A Digital Health Europe (DHE) workshop involving five other EU funded projects was hosted by IFIC at the ICIC21 conference on 24th May 2021. The focus of the workshop was to share information and learning on different person-centred digital health solutions, associated re-designed care pathways and/ or services and capacity building activities which have been developed and undertaken to support the deployment of their digital health and care solutions.

COVID-19 has accelerated the roll-out of digital tools including those to deliver telecare, telehealth, telemonitoring, and remote consultations. The crisis situation resulted in a top-down approach which health and care provider organisations and care teams embraced to ensure that as many routine services as possible could be maintained. Generally speaking, ad-hoc organised capacity building activities accompanied the accelerated digital health deployments, without compromising patient safety. Now, in order to sustain and further enhance this growth, we need to establish a more structured approach with capacity building strategy/plan/policy, tailored to different target groups and their needs. Capacity building and change have to be managed at individual, organisation and system level.

Together with DHE, five other digital health projects, which are either still on-going, recently started or recently completed, were invited to a workshop session within the ICIC21 online conference. ValueCare, PROCare4Life, JADECARE, C3Cloud and mHealthHub discussed their project’s capacity-building-related aspects. DHE presented the capacity building framework developed by IFIC and empirica, the DHE knowledge tree and its key components and building blocks. DHE invited all the projects and workshop participants to enrich the knowledge tree with their relevant and valuable resources to create a capacity-building one-stop-shop to facilitate digital health solution deployment.

Following the presentations, during the panel discussion moderated by IFIC R&D Director Leo Lewis, the project representatives shared with the audience what capacity building activities worked well and what did not work well and how the current pandemic impacted upon their activities and their learning.

All of the projects successfully adapted to the new situation and included additional types of activities in their capacity building portfolio that better suited the virtual environment where this was necessary. Digital solutions facilitated reaching and engaging with more stakeholders in a variety of ways to undertake co-design and user requirements elicitation in both ValueCare and PROCare4Life or interactive online tools such as Mural in JADECARE to carry on with the stakeholder engagement and co-design actions.

C3Cloud has finished recently but the project coordinator is already engaged in its sustainability as a demonstrator for testing. What made their project unique was the systemic approach. C3Cloud looked at digital health from a larger, wholistic point of view, which was an advantage but it also set of course certain limitations when it comes to the implementation of this complex approach. Whilst the national level showed high interest to the results, it was the local/county level that had to apply this decision-making aid tool fitted for multimorbid patients. In order to appropriately use the tool, they needed guidance and capacity building. This is the type of learning which they wish to share with the DHE multistakeholder community.

mHealthHub reported on the difficulty that although actors develop useful capacity building materials which they could share with others, it is not evident to go beyond the specification details and find the right way how to make it useful for others. What are the components which could be generalised and shared to make this knowledge fit for purpose?

All project participants agreed on the fact that there is a need for more exchange and knowledge sharing events, discussions, workshops like this across projects and initiatives of all kinds from all levels to establish partnerships, create interactions and improving project outcomes.

If you missed the live session, you can watch the recording now.