Lars Krogh, Senior researcher
Maximite Alta Ltd/NORUT Research
Alta, N-9516, Norway
Home Care, Telemedicine, Broadband & telemedicine
Use of broadband communication in the home care sector, and in the society in general, makes new perspectives for the future health care system. It could empower nurses and enable them to deliver more qualified health care services in the patients homes, but how will the patients situation change?
Alta is a municipality with 17 000 inhabitants in the northern part of Norway. Since 1992 the municipality has been involved in telemedicine projects in co-operation with the University hospital in Tromsø. During the first 8 years the telemedicine projects in Norway mainly has focused on hospital services and contact between local doctors and specialist. One of the experiences is that this contact, by use of videoconference system and special devices avoids a lot of travelling for the patients ,educates the local doctors and gradually gives them specialist skills which make them more able to judge about the necessity of sending patients to the regional hospital.
During the last year there has also been a project with use of broadband communication for the home care services in Alta. Nurses in this service use portable PC’s during their visits at patients who live in their own homes and have continuous contact with the central patient journal system. They also use digital cameras to take picture of wounds and eruptions. This pictures can be used in the discussions with local physicians and there will also be experiments of using e-mail for sending the pictures to specialist and in the communication with different co-operating partners.
During my presentation I will present the project “Broadband communication in the home care sector” and describe our experiences of how patients, nurses and doctors have reacted to the new possibilities.
The use of telemedicine equipment in the home care sector raise a lot of interesting perspectives for the future health care system. We see that it in the relatively near future will be possible to deliver hospital services in the patients home and that the nurses in the home care services will be able to deliver more and more qualified health care services in the homes.
This development will challenge the today organisation in the health care sector and the traditional roles of both doctors and nurses. It also will create new “markets” for the home care sector which no longer will concentrate only on elderly people, but to a greater extent will take care of younger patients and be able to be responsible for postoperative care. One scenario is that the home care services will be the future “interface” for the health care sector. Also the users of the home care services will face another situation when the communication lines between the different actors change. An important challenge is to use the technology to empower the old people and other user groups and organise the electronic communication especially with the patients relatives.
Future development will depend on how different groups in the health care system will face the new possibilities. In the paper I discuss future perspectives and I will propose some different scenarios for the future development, depending of which choices, positions and attitudes the different actors (nurses, doctors, patients, patients relatives and politicians) will take today and in the near future.