Medhealth Review

Welfare Technology and Innovation – Keys to Our Future Healthcare Challenges

Welfare technology and innovation are vital to address the staffing and skills shortages in the healthcare industry. An industry in which fewer and fewer people now care for a larger and growing aging population. Welfare technologies also ensure an increased sense of independence and a higher quality of life for the people that use them.

“In homecare in our municipality, we saw substantial gains from the outset after introducing welfare technology in the form of medicine dispensing robots. We saved thousands of work hours for assistant nurses, who no longer have to attend thousands of patient visits and spend numerous hours in their cars using up litres of fuel”, says David Wiklund, a business developer with a focus on welfare technology who works for the Kramfors municipality in northern Sweden.

As we continue to live longer, our society’s healthcare needs are steadily increasing. There will be twice as many people living beyond the age of 80 in Sweden by 2031 – a pattern that looks the same in many other industrialized countries. We need a 30 percent increase in the number of elderly care providers in the same period if our elderly care system is to accommodate such an increase in population.

Today, there are initiatives that can contribute to solving these challenges. Modern welfare technology and innovations are being designed to streamline work processes, create a better working environment and reduce stress for healthcare providers – all without trying to replace human contact. Welfare technology is all technology which in one way or another improves the lives of those who need it. Technology can be used to maintain or increase security, activity, participation or independence for people with a disability or the elderly. Examples are security alarms, mobile alarms with GPS functions, video entry systems and surveillance webcams for increased security.

Medication management is also an example, where there is huge potential for streamlining processes, increasing adherence, and working smarter. Especially in the home care industry. Distributing automated medicine dispensing systems (AMDs), or robots, to a person allows greater flexibility when planning, which can help reduce staff stress – particularly when a large number of home care elderly receive their medication at the same time.

“Having medicine dispensing robots installed in people’s homes means it is possible to spread visits out more evenly through the day, reducing, for example, work peaks in the morning and evening. We have also reduced the need for delegated staff – staff who are authorized to administer medicine – by approximately 50 percent. This facilitates both the supply of skills and the procurement of substitutes. Another consequence is that they free up more time for nurses, who do not have to plan and carry out delegation training to the same extent”, says David Wiklund.

Using welfare technology such as medicine dispensing robots in the home care sector creates benefits for the work environment and reduces costs – as well as leads to climate savings by reducing the number of journeys to and from a person’s home. Other positive effects include an increased sense of independence and improved quality of life for the elderly.

“A medicine dispensing robot creates security for everyone involved – the senior, relatives and healthcare professionals. Everyone knows that the right dose of medicine was given at the right time to the right person. A person no longer have to sit and wait for the homecare provider to come and dispense medicine. If they are going away during the day, it is also possible to take out several doses in advance at one time, which creates a real sense of freedom”, says David Wiklund.

Kramfors municipality has calculated that in one year – and in just one single district – it has saved 10,200 homecare visits, 143,000 car kilometres, 8,600 litres of fuel and 4,300 hours have been freed up for assistant nurses. An impressive return for just 18 Evondos medicine dispensing robots. Evondos Group, the provider of Evondos service and Medido service, is the leading company in Europe when it comes to automated medicine dispensing systems. With over 500 client organizations, cities or municipalities throughout the Nordics and the Netherlands, the group is responsible for tens of millions of medication sachets being correctly dispensed – with an adherence rate of 99 percent and more than 800 000 working days saved.

“Both our staff and the patients are really happy with these medicine dispensing robots. We are delighted that we dared to try them. I urge everyone to embrace digital technology. It is essential if we are going to solve the shortage of skilled workers in elderly care and meet the demographic challenges we’re facing head-on”, says David Wiklund.

By David Wiklund, Organizational Project Manager at Kramfors Municipality, Sweden

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