Testing an eHealth service to reduce the burden of treatment

In a new project at UiS, researchers will test an eHealth solution that can strengthen the chronically ill's health-promoting competence and coping skills and develop new forms of interaction between patients and health personnel.

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The project will test forms of collaboration where nurses actively use digital aids to make work easier, treatment better and, above all, avoid unnecessary readmissions (Photo: Pexels)

First published September 3, 2020. Text: Cathrine Sneberg

The project eHealth@Hospital-2-Home has received 12 million from the Research Council of Norway to develop and test a digital health service for heart failure patients and patients with colorectal cancer.

– Our goal is to map whether a digital health service can reduce the treatment burden in transition phases and follow-up of illness and treatment and provide a higher quality of life and reduce the number of hospital admissions, says Anne Marie Lunde Husebø.

She is the leader of a research group within health promotion and long-term illness at the University of Stavanger.

High prevalence of chronic diseases

Patients with long-term illness often have two or more concomitant chronic diseases, a high degree of readmission and complex healthcare needs.

With a small population of 5.3 million, Norway has one of the world's highest rates of colorectal cancer, with over 4,000 new cases annually. Similarly, the incidence of heart failure is considerable, with 20,000 hospitalizations per year. Both diseases are typical of chronic conditions and with significant re-admission rates 30 days after discharge from the hospital.

Patients have greater responsibility for their health

– Many patients with chronic illnesses may struggle to navigate the health care system and perform recommended self-care, Husebø explains.

Treatment burden can be understood as the extra work that patients with long-term illness do to live well with the disease. This "extra work" includes finding and understanding relevant health information, monitoring health status, dealing with treatment plans delegated by the health care providers, and administering medical appointments. 

– The dominant consequences of an excessive treatment burden are reduced health and well-being, inadequate follow-up of treatment plans, and readmissions, she adds.

Digital service to ease the burden

The eHealth@Hospital-2-Home project will develop new knowledge about the treatment burden and its effect on the patient's quality of life. The aim is to explore the treatment burden in transitional phases and follow-up of illness and treatment and test an eHealth solution to strengthen the patient's health-promoting competence and coping skills. At the heart of the project are new digital tools and forms of interaction for patients and healthcare professionals. 

– The eHealth solution will be tested in treatment pathways at the critical stage following hospital discharge, says Husebø.

By reducing the treatment burden for the chronically ill, we may prevent increased costs for the hospitals, and at the same time, improve the patient's self-care.

Collaboration partners

Patient representatives will, together with the health care service represented by Stavanger and St. Olavs University Hospitals, assist in the digital service design.

– The project will also try out forms of collaboration where nurses actively use digital aids to make work easier, treatment better, and, above all, avoid unnecessary readmissions, Husebø adds.

Dignio A/S provides the digital platform on which the service will be built. They have broad expertise and experience in delivering digital health services in Norway. The project also collaborates with international researchers at universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

The project is led by Anne Marie Lunde Husebø, associate professor at the University of Stavanger, and will be implemented in the period 2020 - 2023.