Antisuperbugs: 3 million euros for technological innovation in the prevention of resistance of microorganisms to antibiotics

31 May

The healthcare market is one of the areas with the greatest purchasing impact in the public and private sector in Spain with a business turnover of 71 billion euros annually. It is a very complex market where the formulas used for purchasing both consumer goods and drugs, and services depend on the centres themselves. However, they also depend on the local regulations of suppliers, autonomous regions as well as state and community legislation.

This complexity does not only make it impossible for companies to make their products or services available to procurers but it is also often the interested parties in the purchasing that see the inclusion of these produces in their centre and their accessibility to their staff as a truly impossible mission.

And this is a whole lot more difficult when it comes to incorporating new technologies that meet the real needs of professionals.

In a panorama where investment in research and development is at its lowest point in recent decades, having a pre-commercial public procurement project subsidised by the European Union with 3 million euros is a big opportunity for companies that can offer their R+D services to create innovation which responds to the real needs of professionals.

An innovative public procurement project is an approach to innovation based on demand, where a group of procurers combine their resources to share risk in a joint R+D effort in the industry to provide solutions to needs which are not being met by the market. In the case of our project, it would be an ICT solution aimed at the early detection of microorganisms resistant to antibiotics (superbugs) in a healthcare environment, the Antisuperbugs project, coordinated by Jean Patrick Mathieu of the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS).

Antisuperbugs team (from left to right): Kristina Fogel, Sara Bedin, Maren Geissler, Dag Ilver, Benian Ghebremedhin, Jean Patrick Mathieu, Enric Limon, Gonçalo de Carvalho, Gemma Cabré, Esther Arévalo

The consortium coordinated by the AQuAS, an expert institution in the definition and execution of public procurement projects in innovation in Spain, consists of 6 contracting authorities (the Catalan Institute of Oncology IDIBELL (ES), Hospital Mútua of Terrassa (ES), Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UK), Helios Kliniken (DE), Universitaetsklinikum Aachen (DE) and Autonomous Province of Trento (IT)), and two expert institutions in their area of research at RISE ACREO (SE) and Sara Bedin (IT).

Enric Limon of the VINCat Programme (Surveillance of Infections) of the CatSalut, principal researcher of the project, sees having a detector of microorganisms resistant to antibiotics as a business opportunity for a company.  In the United States, Asian and European Union markets, solutions are being sought that will make it possible to have a rapid detection system that activates early detection mechanisms. The resistance of certain microorganisms to antibiotics is creating a situation of alarm across the world to which the World Health Organisation (WHO) itself has drawn attention, estimating a figure of 50 million deaths in the years to come if adequate measures are not taken. The successful tendering companies will not only have access to funding but also receive the support of hundreds of professionals from six European institutions at the highest level in research and a potential market in a first phase of hundreds of hospitals and healthcare centres interested in purchasing a solution that they themselves have helped create.

Gonçalo de Carvalho, expert biologist in resistances at the Catalan Institute of Oncology, explains the need for this project to consider the possibility of creating new modules that when applied to the technologies themselves enable new detections to be made which makes purchasing them even more attractive to health institutions by adapting them to their own needs.

The tender which will be opened to companies in the next few months forms part of the Pre-Commercial Public Procurement programmes funded within the European Commission’s H2020 framework of reference. All the information regarding the Antisuperbugs project and the tendering options are available on the website of the project.

Interested companies can access the questionnaire of the open call of the market.

There is also the option for companies to offer their availability by putting in a tender as a consortium.

Post written by Jean Patrick Mathieu, Enric Limon and Gonçalo de Carvalho.

RITMOCORE: person centred public procurement

24 May
Marcel Olivé Elias

The need to place the patient at the centre of the model of care is widely accepted and is thus reflected in the Health Plan. Meeting this need is a substantial improvement in services and involves changes in the way these services are provided and that is precisely what innovation is all about.

What is needed, therefore, is to ask ourselves what instruments we have to incorporate innovation in public services and facilitate this change of model.

The RITMOCORE project, coordinated by the AQuAS, is in fact a public procurement of innovation initiative which aims to incorporate innovation in the provision of services to patients which carry or need a pacemaker. The end aim is to achieve care of higher quality, more personalised and ultimately, of more value for those patients who have been fitted with a pacemaker.

 

Public procurement has revealed itself to be a lever for change regarding the model of provision and organisation of health services and of the relationship with providers. This is why the AQuAS has driven several initiatives at a Catalan and European level in this area, such as numerous European projects or the recent call by CatSalut for PPI projects.

Catalan hospitals (Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge, Mútua Terrassa and the Hospital Sant Pau) and English hospitals (Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and Countess of Chester Hospital) have undertaken a joint bid under the clinical and administrative leadership of Hospital Sant Pau, and coordinated by AQuAS which will be published at the end of 2018. This bid will make it possible to contract a service that will make the tracking of all patients with pacemakers effective and stimulate their activation, and it will enable the selection of the most appropriate devices for each patient, promote the coordination between levels of healthcare and permit the management of change of the ICTs that are needed: an integral service in line with what the health plan requires.

This inspiring project provides a practical approach to everything regarding the key issues in re-orienting the model of care. It forces us to deal with the constraints of the regulatory framework of public procurement and make continual assessments of risk, but above all, RITMOCORE forces us to manage the complexity of multidisciplinary environments (medicine, nursing, contracting, finances, etc…) that provide a very enriching opportunity and a challenge at the same time.

Complexity is inevitably a source of innovation. Providing ourselves with the instruments to exploit all the potential in favour of the care of people is our responsibility. Society, the healthcare environment and collaboration with the private sector are highly complex realities which offer the opportunity to generate, adopt and spread innovation.

Post written by Marcel Olivé Elias.

Nurses in Barcelona adopt the culture of dialogue to define their professional future

5 Apr
Glòria Novel and Núria Cuxart

Asking ourselves questions, reformulating questions, rethinking the way we want to be, what we need and how we want society to know and see us. This is, without doubt, a difficult exercise to carry out as individuals but it is even more difficult to do this as a profession.

Agreeing with each other is by no means easy. Training, method and a desire to do so is needed. Having these premises clear, we initiated the RESET project at the Official College of nurses of Barcelona (COIB).

Guided by the company Diàlegs, specialised in mediation in health, we initiated an unprecedented process of participation in the nursing profession during which we went out into the territory to find out what the concerns, needs, wishes, complaints and proposals of nurses in the province of Barcelona were.

The process lasted the whole of 2017, after which our corporation was given the commission to develop the strategic lines on which the college members of Barcelona want us to work along with thousands of ideas that they would like to process.

The difficulty of the project was considerable. Apart from the geographical distances that existed and the difficulties in getting nurses involved, there was the added difficulty of coming up with a dynamic that had to be participative so as to facilitate environments of conversation, discussion and consensus among the hundreds of female and male nurses who have different professional realities and therefore varying priorities.

The Diàlegs company took on the challenge of making it possible by means of a process lasting 12 months during which participative methodologies were used to define the profession as it is today and that of the desired future. The framework for the project was based on the principles, values and methodologies of mediation, which led to a broad and necessarily inclusive view of the differences and susceptibilities of the nursing community.

The RESET project was carried out in three different stages: in the first stage, open debates were set up in circles of group discussion. The circles enabled a comprehensive collection of very valuable data which formed the basis on which to develop the following stages that consisted of two days of consensus: one to agree on the diagnosis of the situation the profession finds itself in now and another to define the future, with the aims and lines of action to be developed.

As a result of these three stages of the RESET project, 52 group discussion circles with 925 participants were set up, that is, with people who participated one or more times. 3,762 ideas were collected as well as some proposals for the future, with nine thematic areas and 65 lines of action decided on by agreement. The level of satisfaction was very high and the participants showed a high level of interest in continuing in the project, repeating participations in the three stages.

It must be said that the key to the success of the process was the large number of people that committed themselves to the project right from the start. We are referring to what we called the Driving Group made up of 208 people (with representatives from all over the territory, all positions and susceptibilities) who worked from the start both in the co-design of specific aspects as well as in the diffusion, organisation of group discussion circles and participation in the events for consensus.

Beyond the results of the RESET project, which are, in the end, a commitment to change with implications for the upcoming years, we still have much to learn and this can no doubt be extrapolated to the professional disciplines in health in which we are organised through colleges. We need to continue asking ourselves questions both in and out of the college organisations to positively drive change and development in all the aspects which bring us together as professionals. Continuity in the culture of dialogue is one of the most important challenges that came out of this fascinating process. This was the message that the nurses who worked in the Reset Project gave us. Therefore, from the COIB, this is our commitment.

Post written by Núria Cuxart Ainaud, director of programmes at the COIB, and Glòria Novel Martí, founding director of Diàlegs.

Towards research in nursing with a (greater) impact

15 Mar
Núria Radó

What is it that makes a particular research have an impact on society beyond the strictly academic and which is truly transformative? Can a whole series of actions be planned in the way that one follows a cooking recipe which leads directly to the desired social impact? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The impact is multifactorial and depends on so many different elements and actors that it is difficult to establish a formula to guarantee it.

However, having said that, the fact that there is research which has a particular social impact does not mean that it is a totally random phenomenon and that there is no way of predicting, facilitating or promoting it. Years ago, from the Research Assessment group at the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS), and with the help and complicity of the International School on Research Impact Assessment, ISRIA, we identified a series of facilitators with regards the impact of research.

A fundamental facilitator is people, and the values, culture and capacity of leadership they have. Two identical results of research can have different impacts if the capacity of leadership, drive and will to get beyond academic impact is different. But this is still not enough. The strategy, organisation, collaborations and openness that institutions have will be a great facilitator or barrier for the researchers that have carried out the research.

Finally, both people and institutions will need two indispensable elements in order to aspire to having an impact: on the one hand, a close and effective communication with the different social actors that can play a role in transferring the results of research, and on the other, an approach focused on the participation of all these key players.

To paraphrase Confucius when he said “explain it to me and I will forget, show me and maybe I will remember, involve me and I will understand”, it is all about involving all the necessary actors to bring about a real change and make research transformative.

It is in this context that SARIS (Catalan acronym) came into being, the Assessment System of Research and Innovation in Health. It is a strategic tool which emerged from the PERIS (Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation in Health 2016-2020) with the aim of assessing the research carried out in health in Catalonia from the perspective of always wanting to facilitate and influence so that it has an impact beyond academia. To do this, the motivation and involvement of actors has been defined as a key factor for its development.

Last November, we started a series of participative sessions with nurses who were selected from the PERIS 2017 call in which a line of intensification of nursing professionals was financed.

It is important to emphasise that launching this line with nursing research makes full sense for three reasons: on the one hand, one of the thematic priorities of the PERIS is clearly that of “the development of clinical and translational research which facilitates the growth of scientific and technological knowledge, putting special emphasis on primary care agents and research in nursing”. In addition, the PERIS 2017 nursing fund has been the first to come to an end and it was appropriate to address ourselves to them first and foremost.

Last but not least, the conditions in which nursing research is carried out, with patients and their recovery as its central goal, makes it especially appropriate to ensure that this research has a direct impact on health. Hence, it is important that the research done in nursing be capable of demonstrating the impact that this group of professionals has because it can give it a comparative advantage with regards other biomedical disciplines. Indeed, nursing research is intrinsically translational.

Therefore, the first session centred on identifying the influential actors and in empowering the nurse to carry out an effective communication which amplifies the productive interactions needed to transform the results obtained into benefits for a better and improved health for patients.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the nurses for their participation (readiness and motivation) who attended of their own free will and in their time off work ensuring thus that the session was a success. This demonstrates that from the AQuAS we have leverage to give support to those researchers who are motivated to driving the impact of their research.

At present, we are preparing other sessions that will enable mutual learning between researchers and the assessment agents at the AQuAS.

Post written by Núria Radó Trilla (@nuriarado).

Jornada SARIS: Participación en recerca Barcelona, April 4th 2018.

The experience of assessing innovation

1 Mar
Clàudia Pardo

Clàudia Pardo, a consultant of open innovation at Induct accompanies and helps entities in the health sector to adapt to the new needs of the future. Clàudia Pardo, together with Dolors Benítez, led the first edition of Innovate and Assess (see the previous post), a training programme of the Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare Management in Catalonia (OIGS).

This is why today we offer you an interview in which Clàudia Pardo of Induct talks to Francesca Moya, a specialist doctor in rheumatology, at present the Director of Processes and Quality in the Area of Healthcare in Mútua de Terrassa. We would like to share her experience at the OIGS in the context of the Innovate and Assess workshop because we feel that it could be of use to many other professionals.

Francesca Moya

What would you highlight about the OIGS in terms of assessing innovation?

The observatory has been an important lever in introducing the concept of innovation in micromanagement and healthcare practices among professionals and management teams. Personally, the OIGS has given me the necessary methodology and support to identify potential innovative practices and to introduce assessment in the project development process of projects that professionals themselves propose. It has also allowed me to get to know the experiences of other centres, to learn from this and to encourage relationships between other professionals.

In your opinion, why is assessing innovation in healthcare practices important?

The only way to quantify a clinical or organisational improvement that has been put into practice is to assess it. We learnt this during this OIGS course. The scientific interest that professionals have in innovation, with the aim of including new practices or technologies to bring us closer to an improved healthcare, can sometimes mean that certain resources are assigned to practices which do not provide any value and this can have a high cost, not only economic but also of opportunity and lead to inequality in the system.

How did the need arise to start assessing good practices in healthcare in your centre?

Innovation in healthcare practices is necessary if they are to be improved, and assessing it is essential to quantify improvements. I would say that the need to assess arose out of the curiosity and need to know whether what we are doing, including the novelties that we implement and the resources of all types that we assign, are in any way relevant to our clients and to the organisation. But there is another important aspect which encouraged and motivated us, by no means a minor one; giving visibility to everything we do and sharing it all as well as acknowledging the efforts and contributions of the professionals who make it possible to improve the health system. The OIGS is a tool aimed at facilitating the entire process.

What advice would you give when incorporating assessment in innovation?

In my experience, I think the first thing to consider when wanting to assess what is being done is to think about this from the start of any project that is to be implemented. Let me explain myself: one of the greatest problems that I have had personally when wanting to assess a practice, experience or project has been the lack of necessary data, problems of design and the lack of knowledge regarding the adequate methodology needed to do it. Therefore, my advice would be to start any new project by planning what you want to achieve and what you need to measure in order to know whether you have been successful or not. Methodology is basic in the field of assessment and that is the expertise of the AQuAS.

What reasons would you give the centre to take on this approach?  

I consider that knowing the results of what we do is basic for our organisations so that we are aware of the value it has, what it offers us, whether we should continue doing it, whether we can apply it to other areas of care, whether we should forget about it and change it for other practices or whether we can improve it.

Interview by Clàudia Pardo (@Claudiia_Pardo), Induct (@InductES).

Innovate and Assess: how to incorporate assessment in innovation

22 Feb
Dolors Benítez

Incorporating the culture of assessment in innovative initiatives was the starting point and the challenge from which the Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare Management in Catalonia (OIGS) initiated the first edition of the Innovate and Assess training workshop, a programme to train “Agents of Change” with the focus set on assessment and innovation.

What were the contents of this initiative?

  • What is innovation, what is assessment and what is the OIGS’s process of assessment?
  • The management of change to provide tools to encourage assessment
  • A practical session in assessment
  • The conceptualisation of a proposal to implement the assessment of an innovative initiative

From the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS) and via the Community for Innovation of the OIGS, a process of assessment has been driven allowing the quality of methodology in innovative practices to be measured within the framework of the public healthcare system of Catalonia, offering professionals in health and organisations the opportunity to opt for the certification of their experiences as an added stamp of quality.

This workshop has enabled experts in innovation to get in touch with experts in assessment and share their knowledge with each other in order to improve the quality of assessment of innovation.

This training activity has been accredited with 2,0 credits by the Catalan Council of Ongoing Training for Healthcare Professions.

The main aim has been to create and facilitate the necessary tools to be able to carry out assessment and innovation in healthcare centres in an adequate manner.

On the one hand, Cari Almazán, Cristina Colls, Núria Radó, Dolores Ruiz-Muñoz and Maite Solans, experts at the AQuAS in different disciplines participated, working with professionals and provided their knowledge and recommendations from the point of view of assessment.

On the other hand, Dani Bernard, Ignasi Clos, Xavi Olba and Clàudia Pardo of Induct, offered their expertise in the field of innovation using dynamics and techniques such as user journey map and cubbing.

Cubbing

With the intention of boosting the number of certified innovative initiatives (as we mentioned, using criteria to measure the quality of methodology), as well as spreading the word about the Observatory as a support tool in the assessment of the Catalan healthcare system as a whole, the AQuAS provides assistance, or mentoring, to all those professionals that provide self-evaluations of their own experiences but who do not attain the required quality of methodology to obtain certification.

At present, the OIGS has become a point of reference within the Catalan healthcare system, and day after day it places value on the effort made by organisations that share and divulge their innovative experiences and who promote the assessment of innovation.

Post written by Dolors Benítez.

Medical information in the press and the doctor-patient relationship

15 Feb
Gaietà Permanyer

For years, I have been under the impression of not having a clear idea of how information related to the complex world of medicine and health should be disseminated in the daily news media, both of the science that it is based on and of the difficulties and dilemmas in applying it in practice.

I have repeatedly refused offers, with only rare exceptions, to write texts on these subjects in newspapers or books of a non-professional nature: I had serious doubts of how to transmit this knowledge to the public at large. Looking back critically on these reservations I have had, I think they have been related to the paternalism inherent in the medical training received by the professionals of my generation: the fear that the public will make an incorrect interpretation and come to abhorrent conclusions of the facts disseminated, an audience with little knowledge on the theoretical foundations and subtleties of these facts, which are only accessible with proper professional training. Indeed, experience has shown me that these reservations were indeed justified.

However, at the same time, I have witnessed the growth of citizens’ autonomy, now widely acknowledged, and their right to take “informed decisions”. This position, which has come to define the 21st Century as “the patients’ century”, acknowledges their right to know relevant professional data so as to be able to take accurate decisions autonomously; it has an undeniable foundation but if we are to avoid that this leads to the proliferation of distorted facts it will require a rigorous preparation and an absence of spurious interests on the part of those divulging information. Ideally, these informants should contribute to “health literacy” in a way that is balanced, objective and unemotional.

The tension between these two conceptions of health information goes in parallel with that which exists between two extreme views of the doctor-patient relationship: the classical paternalistic one (“the doctor knows better than anyone what is best for a patient and their decision must be accepted”) and that of the “informed consumer” with autonomous decisions. The other extreme of this corresponds to an “imminent revolution” in which it would be the very well-informed patient, (basically as a result of the spread of refined computer technology) that would take the most important decisions concerning themselves.

Personally, like many others, I prefer a more balanced approach: that corresponding to the “interpretative” and “deliberative” models of the doctor-patient relationship, in which the experience and knowledge of the former interact with the latter respecting their autonomy.

I think that this dilemma runs parallel to the medical information found in daily news media: on the one hand, there is the social demand to inform citizens of current advances so they know their options or opportunities as “informed consumers”; on the other, there is the temptation to fuel the emotions (triumphalism or fear) of the reader who is untrained by offering them information which is largely uncritical, lacks rigour or is insufficient, with the risk of a biased, distorted or exaggerated interpretation. The more or less unreal notions that some informants may have on medical and health problems (common, alas, among many professionals) can be transmitted like this directly to the citizen and to their emotions and desires.

In the case of news related to medical advances and innovations, I would like citizens to know what expectations these novelties raise, maybe now within their reach, and the magnitude or relevance of the problem that can be lessened or resolved, and that this be done by using a rigorous and prudent terminology so that citizens can also create their own opinion on the solidity or temporariness of an innovation, and of the related uncertainties and limitations: not only of the benefits that they can provide them with but also of the undesired, uncomfortable or harmful side effects they might produce, and whether they are in anyway frequent or probable. In other words, I would not like the main aim of this information to be that of creating hope or fear in the reader, or give them the idea in a triumphal tone that in the wonderful world of science, the war against disease has claimed a new victory, especially at the hands of local researchers.

I have recently taken part in an analysis of the news published in the daily press in Catalonia on medical innovations.

Even though some well-documented news described in sufficient detail was found that could provide balanced information to the reader in this analysis, in many other cases the information was one-sided or not very thorough and was devoid of facts related to questionable aspects of the innovation and their risks. It resulted in a biased message which often tended to induce optimism in the reader rather than educate them in the knowledge of the pros and cons of the medical innovations.

At a time when there is a call for a user’s well-informed autonomy, I would be delighted if healthcare culture and the attitude of the news media did not amount to a paternalistic doctor-patient relationship. In this regard, there is no doubt that much still needs to be done.

Post written by Gaietà Permanyer Miralda. Emeritus physician. Unit of Epidemiology, Cardiology Service. Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona.

PEGASO: Fit For Future: connected health and long-term strategy

16 Nov
Elisa Puigdomènech

Developing a platform based on mHealth that has mobile applications (apps), a game and intelligent sensors has been the goal of the European project  PEGASO Fit For Future, which began in December 2013 and ended last July.

It is a platform that aims to improve both the lifestyles of adolescents (diet, physical activity and hours of sleep) and the knowledge that they might have about these life styles. To achieve this, intelligent sensors (t-shirt and bracelet) which record the physical activity and hours of sleep of an individual and also different apps which record the intake of food by means of a diary and footsteps taken by means of an accelerometer were developed and tested.

The PEGASO Fit For Future platform detects which lifestyles a user has and makes recommendations on how to improve them. In addition, it incorporates a gamification component: based on how healthy the lifestyle of a user is as well as how much their knowledge improves, which are then converted into obtaining a greater or lesser amount of points.

As an example, here we can see a screenshot of a fictitious user:

Professionals from different areas collaborated in the project: developers of games, apps and sensors, design and gaming experts, health professionals (doctors, nurses, experts in nutrition, experts in physical activity and psychologists) and also experts in health technology assessment and public health.

There were two different phases of the project: the development phase of the platform and the assessment phase.

During the development phase, while some professionals put their efforts into ensuring the quality and appropriateness of the medical and clinical content of the platform, others concentrated on aspects of a technological nature.

Nevertheless, the opinions of the end users themselves, adolescents, were always kept in mind during this process. In three iterative stages, boys and girls in Catalonia, Lombardy, England and Scotland tested this technology out in the different stages of its development.

The proposals for improvement made by the adolescents including their preferences were, whenever possible, kept in mind for the later versions of the platform. The aim was to guarantee as far as possible that what was being developed was practical for and accepted by the end users.

The last stage of the project was the assessment of the platform. The assessment of the different elements (apps, games and sensors) was to see if they really did help to improve the lifestyles and knowledge about lifestyles among adolescents and to assess the experience of the user after having used the platform.

To this end, a pilot study was carried out with adolescents from Catalonia, Lombardy, Scotland and England in which 365 mobile phones with the PEGASO platform installed were used by adolescents.

After six months of use, the intervention was assessed by means of validated questionnaires, a qualitative methodology and data obtained from the platform itself. A control group was introduced allowing for comparisons to be made with adolescents that did not have access to the platform.

The results of this study will help to evaluate whether new technologies are practical in helping adolescents improve both their lifestyles and knowledge about these lifestyles, a population group accustomed to using new technologies and that, in general, do not often visit health professionals.

Getting closer to the population by using mobile technology and the recreational aspect of gaming could be a good strategy for an intervention of this type related to the promotion of healthy lifestyles among adolescents. At a population level, it is a long-term strategy and hence the slogan “Fit For Future” of the PEGASO project.

Post written by Elisa Puigdomènech.

Innovate or innovate

29 Sep

What do the following have in common? An integrated circuit of home based hospitalisation, a telephonic nursing management project, a plan to minimise risks and the safe use of drugs, the use of ICTs in patients treated with oral anticoagulants, an assistance route of collaboration between primary and specialised care, the redesign of a programme of assistance in sexual and reproductive health, a functional unit of chronic and subacute patients, the optimisation of assistance to a patient who has undergone surgery and an oncological-geriatric unit of intermediary care?

They are all innovative projects or experiences which are compiled in the  Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare Management, a reference framework to detect innovative initiatives and tendencies in the Catalan Health System. You can read about it in this post by Dolors Benítez.

“Promoting collaborations between organisations by creating synergies, interest groups and setting up challenges.”

If talking about challenges, we have quite a few and innovation is in fact intended to provide solutions to make improvements.

Innovating, therefore, can be seen as a constant and necessary attitude that we can identify in all professional fields and areas of life.

In the AQuAS blog, we have shared some projects with a strong innovative component.

Is it possible to combine active and healthy ageing with innovation?

Pediatrics in the Pyrinees, an innovative experience in the Alt Urgell (Catalonia)

“Virtual Nurse”, a promotional and educational portal for health at the service of people

Elderly person with stroke: integrated care from the acute phase to the return home

Post written by Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret)

Time to digitally disconnect?

14 Sep

It is very common to see groups of people looking at their mobile devices in any place at any time: on holiday, at work, at home, in the underground, on the bus, in a congress, ….. wherever. It is also common to take advantage of our holidays to say that we will make the most of these days to disconnect from our routines. Does this include disconnecting our mobile phones, tablets, laptops, the TV or email?

At AQuAS, as an agency involved in health assessment, we do not know this. What we do know is that there is more and more talk of connected health, a term which includes mHealth, eHealth and all related concepts, which have been a part of everyday life for some time now.

At a level of the Catalan system of health, we have in this post by Òscar Solans an example of the development of technological tools which involve new ways of interaction between patients and the health system. In this way, La Meva Salut and eConsult are useful tools when placing the patient, the person that is, at the centre of all the interactions there are with the health professionals coming from different fields.

At a European level, Jean Patrick Mathieu and Rossana Alessandrello wrote about how complex the subjects of interoperability and the implementation of mobile technological solutions are, in this other post. This was the framework for the European project DECIPHER whose goal was to facilitate the access to health information from different countries and health systems.

Let’s change the perspective. At an individual level, who does not have an app downloaded on their mobile phone? Which of these apps have to do with something related to health, such as weight control, for example, or as support when doing physical exercise, to keep track of menstrual cycles, fertility calendars or aspects of mental and emotional health? And no need to limit ourselves to talking about mobile devices: who has not heard of calculators for aspects of health such as calculators of life expectancy?

Downloading an app is very easy and can even be free. In this post by Elisa Puigdomènech, she highlighted the fact that in mid-2016 The Economist explained there were some 165,000 apps related to health. This figure must no doubt have increased.

What does the success of an app depend on? What guarantees of quality and safety do they offer?

Regarding the first question, the user experience was the subject on which Elisa Puigdomènech put the emphasis, based on the experience obtained in the PEGASO project. Along the same lines, Santi Gómez spoke about the fact that the development of a health application must, in all phases of its development, include the participation of those who will ultimately be the end users.

And in terms of the second question, any health intervention should be safe, be based on evidence, on the best quality knowledge available and should be assessable. This is the premise with which we at the AQuAS work and this is the role that an assessment agency can play when thinking about connected health. Thus, this post by Toni Dedéu places the emphasis on the fact that technologists, assessors, professionals and citizens have the opportunity to work together and combine their expertise but not forgetting the speed of innovation.

In conclusion, the assessment of connected health is a current topic. This article was recently published, and is a good example of a proposal for a conceptual framework. We end this post with an editorial about innovation and evidence which invites one to reflect on assessment and innovation.

Post written by Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret)