"I am more involved in taking care of my health now" - Better care for chronic heart failure patients in the Netherlands

Since January 2011, a pilot of ICT-supported, integrated social and health care services in running in Veldhoven in the Netherlands. Patients with Chronic Heart Failure enrolled in the service and involved family members are giving a positive first feedback. They feel both safer and more secure thanks to continuous telemonitoring and low-threshold contact with specialised health professionals, the case managers.

The pilot is part of empirica-led project CommonWell and operated by project partners PoZoB and SHOKO in close cooperation with GP's from the region South-East Brabant. Patients in this pilot are equipped with telemonitoring devices to follow-up their health status, and to detect exacerbations at an early stage. The data from blood pressure meters and weight scales are sent to case managers in a call centre by using a wireless communication device. This small computer poses some more general questions to the patient as well, to evaluate how the patient feels on a more subjective level. This information is also transferred to the case managers. The combination of both objective measurements and more subjective evaluation, results in a quite complete picture of the health condition of the patient. In addition, the patients receive a social alarm, to call for help immediately and at all times. In this way the patients and their relatives have one central access point for urgent as well as non urgent social and medical care.

Patients and their social network react positively on the CommonWell service. They feel safer and more secure, because of the daily monitoring and low-threshold contact with the case managers. Quotes from patients show that they perceive the CommonWell service as a useful support to their own efforts of managing their condition and social care needs:

  • "I am more involved in taking care of my health."
  • "We are glad that our father is being looked after carefully. It makes us worry less and sleep better!"
  • "Now I know where to go to with a social question."

In several cases, exacerbations could be detected at an early stage and countered, so that a visit to the hospital was not necessary.

In May 2011, focus group interviews with case managers took place to gather deeper insight into this new role and experience with the integration of medical and social care. The case managers were positive about the project as well. They had the feeling that this project could really detect health problems earlier due to the telemonitoring, and enhance the quality of life and care. In October 2011 GPs and other key informants will be interviewed about their experience with CommonWell. The pilot is scheduled to end in January 2012.

For more information please visit http://www.commonwell.eu/.