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Originally published by Phillips News Center, April 29, 2013
In May 2013, Royal Philips Electronics and its consortium partners announced the launch of the Advancing Care Coordination and Telehealth Deployment (ACT) program.
The Philips-led ACT program is the first to explore the organizational and structural processes needed to successfully implement care coordination and telehealth services on a large scale.
This European Union-funded program includes healthcare authorities, clinical experts, universities and industry partners.
By monitoring telehealth initiatives in 5 European regions, the program will create a “cookbook” of best practices to facilitate deployment. This could potentially transform care for millions of chronically ill people and save healthcare systems billions of Euros each year.
Chronic illness is growing to pandemic proportions. In the EU, some 10 million people suffer from heart failure, 20 million have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 60 million live with diabetes. Each year, these 3 conditions cost EU healthcare systems around EUR 125 billion.
With telehealth services, chronically ill people can be treated effectively in their own homes through remote management systems and integrated networks of caregivers. The ultimate goal of these services is to improve health and help patients help themselves by giving them more independence, freedom and control over their health and lifestyle.
Clinical studies have shown these services can help reduce hospital admissions, days in hospital and mortality rates. So far, however, telehealth has been mainly limited to pilot programs due to the difficulty of translating such research into practice.
“The ACT program is a key step towards the widespread use of care coordination and telehealth services. It takes research in this field to the next stage of implementation. The program examines how best to deploy and integrate telehealth to improve outcomes for patients and healthcare systems, and ensure they are cost effective,” said Professor Stanton Newman of Health Psychology, School of Health Sciences, City University London, U.K. and principal investigator on the Whole System Demonstrator, the largest telehealth trial conducted to date.
To do that, the ACT program brings together healthcare authorities, companies, universities and hospitals. Five partner European regions (the Basque Country and Catalonia in Spain, Groningen in the Netherlands, Lombardy in Italy and Scotland in the UK) deploy and operate their own schemes for heart failure, COPD and diabetes patients.
The systems will be monitored over a 24-month period to identify “best in class” processes, structures and ways of working.
Data and experiences will be shared between regions, allowing promising candidates to be further optimized. The resulting optimized structures and behaviors will be published, allowing other healthcare authorities to develop their own telehealth systems.
“Philips aims to transform healthcare through meaningful, patient-centric innovation,” said Bas Verhoef, president market group EMEA, Philips Healthcare. “People increasingly want healthcare on their own terms, in ways that let them get on with their normal lives. Moving care from the hospital to the home makes that possible while also helping healthcare systems cope with the increased pressures due to aging populations and the growth of chronic disease.”
“It is an essential evolution, but making it happen requires cooperation from across the healthcare value chain,” continues Verhoef. “The ACT program shows there is a strong willingness to cooperate across Europe, and Philips is proud to lead such a strong consortium that is united in wanting to improve care and quality of life for millions.”
Uniting leading European healthcare experts from a number of domains, the ACT program is part of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA). The EIP-AHA is an initiative from the European Commission under its Innovation Union strategy, and aims to increase the average healthy lifespan by 2 years by 2020.