On October 20, 2020, the German reference site HealthRegion CologneBonn had the honour of hosting one of the EIP on AHA thematic workshops as part of the WE4AHA project. Projects and fellow reference sites dealing with Integrated care and platform solutions for a better provision of health and care services were invited to exchange views on the on pitfalls and opportunities they encounter and to engage in an inspiring discussion attended by almost 90 participants.
In times of the COVID-19 global pandemic, digital transformation is experiencing a rapid acceleration. Platform solutions based on multidisciplinary and cross-sector communication are more than ever considered a chance to push forward and scale-up the provision of integrated health and care services in European regions. The aim of the workshop was to gather experts and practitioners in the field of integrated care to share valuable insights as well as to reach out to interested workshop attendees.
The HealthRegion CologneBonn was particularly keen to invite Ingo Meyer (PMV Research Group, University of Cologne) for a keynote address outlining the complexity and yet necessity of integrated care thinking. Thanks to a virtual walk along a logic model – from impact to measures – it became very clear that the careful identification of needs and strategic selection of priorities were essential in order to never lose sight of the “big picture”: better care for healthy ageing.
The keynote was followed by three presentations. Dr. Alexia Zurkuhlen (RS HealthRegion CologneBonn) discussed the challenges and barriers in implementing an integrated, ICT-based care project, OBERBERG_FAIRsorgt, in a rural area in Germany. Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf (AIAS Bologna, H2020 project SHAPES) shared the H2020 Project SHAPES based upon the introduction of an integrated care platform including a wide range of technical solutions for healthy ageing across 14 countries. Adriano Fernandes (RS Misericordia of Amadora, SCMA) gave insights into the lessons-learned from an integrated, person-centered care approach in the region of Amadora, Portugal.
Two high-level experts in the field of integrated care and platform solutions, Leo Lewis (IFIC) and Sonja Müller (empirica), joined the presenters for a panel discussion further interrogating the key aspects of Integrated care and platform solutions for a better provision of health and care services or “making IT-solutions for integrated care work”. The discussion started by questioning how governance could shape integrated care concepts. In her statement, Leo Lewis underlined that governance needs to take into account the complexity and interdependencies of constantly evolving systems in integrated care. Governance must be understood as an enabler for collaboration that breaks down barriers and moves away from acting within the silos.
The second question to the experts concerned the skills required for health and social care providers to be adequately equipped in order to carry out new roles and functions within integrated care systems. Sonja Müller made a call for a paradigm shift in the conceptualisation of skills, roles and functions within integrated care concepts and recommended to move towards a holistic approach in skills development across the continuum of care. The last part of the discussion revolved around the prerequisites for the deployment of ICT in integrated care. The panel agreed that the success of ICT integration very much depends on the starting point of each country. Whereas some countries introduced extensive IT-infrastructure in their health care systems, other countries or regions were still debating the need of “going digital” for health-related issues. Among the questions from the audience, an interest on how the private sector could be part of integrated care success stories arose. The panellists stressed that this aspect of the quadruple helix was increasingly taken into account via projects such as SHAPES as well as via the increasing use of co-design and co-production of elements in the integrated care world.
Finally, the panellists agreed that for a successful implementation of ICT-based integrated care, the focus had to be not on technology and IT-user skills, but mostly on the promotion of soft and communication skills between formal and informal care, and younger and older adults.