The state government of Schleswig-Holstein launched a funding program („Versorgungssicherungsfonds“) to ensure the access to healthcare and improve cooperation between primary care and hospitals in Schleswig-Holstein. The overall aim is to support comprehensive healthcare especially in rural areas. The program is funded by the Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Youth, Family and Senior Citizens of Schleswig-Holstein. It runs from 2018 until 2022 with the financing volume amounting to 5 million euros per year. Each project can be supported with a total sum of up to € 500,000 for up to three years.
One of the main funding objectives is to support mobile or digital health care solutions to improve primary, secondary and in particular cross-sectoral care. Overall, nineteen projects are currently funded by the program (as of April 2020) with eight having a focus on eHealth or telemedicine. Other projects target a certain group of patients. Common objectives are to reduce unnecessary transport of patients and provide health care tailored to individual needs. Some of the eight projects will be introduced in the following.
The first project supported was “SchmerzSTRANG”, a regional network of primary and secondary care providers set up to offer community-based therapy for patients with chronic pain. Primary care physicians can consult specialty care physicians during regular regional pain conferences. Furthermore, doctor-led groups for patients with chronic pain are offered. These group-based consultations and pain conferences are currently provided as video consultations, in order to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
“Telemed.NetzSH” is a collaboration of three nursing homes and five primary care physicians and a center for telemedicine in the rural western part of the state. All nursing homes are equipped with a system called AescuLink, which automatically transmits the patient’s data, e.g. an ECG to the doctors. Nurses can consult physicians via video to decide whether a problem needs immediate medical attention. Thus, hospital admissions and house visits by doctors can be reduced and elderly – often immobile – patients can stay in their own home.
Another project equips medical assistants with a “telemedical backback” for patient home visits (“Telemedizin im ländlichen Raum”, telemedicine in rural areas). Thus, the assistants gain responsibility and doctors delegate some of their tasks and offer support via video in case of questions. Less time on the road means more time for the patients. In this project, also physicians of different disciplines use video liaison consultations to discuss diagnoses and results of patients treated jointly.
The project “Tizian” combines therapies for Parkinson patients within an outpatient clinical setting and at home via video consultation. Patients are enabled to adopt exercises from the clinic directly into their daily life for a better long-term outcome. The clinic informs providers of follow-up care about the patient’s past therapies and recommendations for further treatment.
Patients who were treated for prostate cancer are supported via “digital follow-up”. They get information based on individual needs through a newly developed app. Furthermore, primary and secondary care providers are connected to offer specialty care via video liaison consultations, when patients visit their local primary care physician.
Many more ideas for innovative projects are currently being developed and discussed, with measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 creating the need for – and acceptance of – eHealth solutions. Most of the projects aim to improve overall primary care in rural areas through video consultation between doctors and patients or between doctors of different disciplines.
Find more information (in German): https://www.schleswig-holstein.de/DE/Fachinhalte/G/gesundheits_dienste/Versorgungssicherungsfonds.html