The patients want it, and the solutions have been fully tested. Nevertheless, the transition to digital home monitoring is progressing slowly. Now a broad alliance is advocating that the government must put more money on the table to pick up the pace.
Norway Health Tech, the Norwegian Smart Care Cluster, Abelia, KS, the Norwegian Nurses’ Association, The Norwegian Cancer Society and the health technology company Dignio stand together behind the clear message: More incentives must be on the table for digital home monitoring to go faster.
Lena Nymo Helli, managing director of Norway Health Tech, says that they all agree that the government is procrastinating.
– We have a healthcare system under pressure, with a wave of elderly people, a higher frequency of chronic diseases and a shortage of healthcare personnel. We must work smarter, and the transition must happen faster. Digital home monitoring has been proven with good results for both patients and the service. Now the Minister of Health must know his visiting hours and make use of the momentum that is in the population after the pandemic. It is the willingness to adopt digital solutions that she is aiming for – both in patients and in the service.
– During the pandemic, the number of video consultations increased drastically. Patients have been asking for this for years, but it was only when the health service had no choice that video consultation came into place. We can if we want to and in any case if we have to. And we have to, says Lena Nymo Helli in Norway Health Tech.
The framework conditions are not good enough
After eight years of testing, the evaluation came from the Directorate of Health, with the following recommendation to the municipalities: The municipalities should offer digital home monitoring to seriously chronically ill patients. 16 million has been put on the table with a plan to speed up its spread throughout the country. “Not enough”, says Tarje Bjørgum in Abelia.
– It is not enough to support project managers, then we fear a new pilot disease. What needs to be in place is financial support for operations, reimbursement schemes when targets are achieved and DRG codes that meet this type of follow-up. It must be worthwhile spreading this to municipalities, hospitals and GPs. For the municipalities, this is an investment they will see the effect of later in the form of more elderly people who can live longer at home – this investment must be a joint venture with the state!
He also points out that Norway has a unique opportunity to build an industry that can also succeed internationally.
– Investing in the healthcare industry in Norway also means creating strong domestic markets where such technology is taken seriously and offered to users so that they can prove the right to life. KS says that digital home monitoring will help free up time for healthcare personnel and provide better services for citizens, but many municipalities lack the capacity needed to adopt e-health solutions.
– It is a paradox that it is difficult to find time in the service to introduce solutions that are intended to save time in the service. Therefore, we are completely dependent on the state contributing funds, expertise and resources to support the establishment, management and financing of e-health solutions. There is also a need for the state to facilitate the sharing of data. Then there is both a need to change regulations and establish sharing platforms, says chairman of KS, Gunn Marit Helgesen.
The nurses are ready
Today, there is a shortage of 6,600 man-years of specialist nurses in the Norwegian health and care service. Calculations made by Statistics Norway (SSB) show that if we do not make major changes in how we deliver health services, the shortage will increase to 28,000 nursing man-years in 2035. At the same time, we see that 20 percent of nurses quit after less than 10 years in the profession. And the average retirement age for a nurse is under 58. Through digital home monitoring and other health technology, nursing capacity can be freed up. In addition, the profession will be less burdensome, and also more exciting and challenging to be in. Leader of the Nurses’ Association Lill Sverresdatter Larsen knows the municipal health service better than most. She believes that the nurses are ready.
– Many will need a skills boost, but this is not a fundamental shift in work tasks. Digital home monitoring is not about less nursing, but is another form of nursing where professional competence and clinical judgment are still essential.
Patients want digital home monitoring
One of the patient organizations that has most strongly advocated digital home monitoring is the Norwegian Cancer Society. They themselves are partners in a research project with the health technology company Dignio, UiO and UNN, where digital outpatient clinics offer digital home monitoring to a number of patient groups.
– Digital home monitoring is not about cold technology, but actually a closer follow-up than today, which both contributes to control and coping with the patient. It provides a more accurate health follow-up where both patient and healthcare personnel are informed. Digital home monitoring puts the patient more in the driver’s seat of their own treatment, and it’s about time, says Secretary General of The Norwegian Cancer Society, Ingrid Stenstadvold Ross. Dignio has delivered digital home monitoring for close to ten years and is fully aware of what it takes to achieve rapid diffusion.
– We must invest in the transformation of the healthcare system as we invest in the green shift. This means targeted funding schemes and higher requirements for both municipalities and hospitals that deliver healthcare services. This is “win-win-win”. Better health for patients, a more sustainable healthcare system and a health tech industry that can provide new jobs and increased export revenues, says CEO of Dignio, Lars Christian Dahle.