ICT in Chronic Care
Permanent address of the item is
ICT kroonisessa potilashoidossa
The amount of patients suffering of chronic conditions increases all the time, while the health care delivery is already struggling with the demands of the acute care patients. Chronic conditions, such as asthma, heart disease and insomnia, require continual medical treatment, restrain the ability to function and sustain longer than one year. It is estimated that by the year 2020 the elder population will outnumber the younger, which will increase the demand of chronic illness care even more. In chronic care, the collaborative execution of care and patients’ self-management of their conditions are highlighted. Additionally health care professionals provide guidance, instructions and support. ICT has been seen to provide benefits in regards of health care services. ICT includes for instance decision support systems, information systems and communication systems. For example the functions provided by ICT are related to storing, managing and transmission of data, clinical decision support and facilitating care and guidance from distance. This study was executed in order to clarify how the utilization of ICT could improve the execution of chronic care. Also the benefits provided by Lean for chronic illness care are evaluated. This thesis was executed as a part of Fujitsu Finland’s LeanMyCity project, which aims to streamline the delivery of care and to improve the working environment. By applying Lean methods, LeanMyCity aims to accomplish more with less. The study was executed as a combination of theoretical research and empirical research. In the theory part the properties of chronic care, the state of Finnish health care, as well as the possible benefits that the utilization of ICT and Lean to the chronic care are examined. In the empirical part, the current situation of chronic care and the utilization of ICT systems are evaluated from four of the university hospitals in Finland. From the findings in the research it can be concluded that ICT supports the chronic care by allowing easier communication, enhancing the access to care, providing information and supporting the management of chronic conditions. Also the planning and execution of care are improved, for instance by adding patient-centered alerts in to patient’s health record, thus increasing the effectiveness of the treatment as well as patient safety. As Lean focuses on zero defects, the benefits provided by Lean include reduced waiting time, delays, repeat visits, unneeded procedures and errors. Lean aims to develop the treatment to be delivered in such a way that all steps in the processes provide value for the patient. However, current information systems are seen to be too difficult to use, and their alignment to the given care is not as smooth as it should be. The level of interoperability between different systems requires a lot of improvement. For the development to be successful, the views of the health care providers must be recognized carefully early on.