COVID19 has opened a window of opportunity to give a digital boost to the implementation of telehealth and telecare services. How to use good practices from other regions was on top of the agenda when the region of Malopolska hosted an online meeting where partners in the ITHACA project exchanged experiences in times of a pandemic. 

Hostess Aneta Widak, team manager at the region of Malopolska. shared her learning experiences from the telehealth project Tele-Angel, which already connects 5.000 people to a telecare service center with three ITHACA partners of Slovenia, Liverpool City Region and the region of Zealand Denmark.

Several questions, regarding scaling and sustainability of telecare, combined with telemedicine were explored. Aneta Widak learned about Zealand’s bottom-up strategy for scaling, starting to build from the local level. Slovenia shared how to partner with one large private company to secure equipment. The partners have now agreed to further their corporation.

Empower citizens to engage agencies of the ministries

Daniel Buhr of the Steinbeis Transfer Center and Sandra Evans of the University of Tubingen of the State of Baden Wurttemberg brought their lessons learnt with the implementation of the Living Lab approach of the State Competence Center for Digital Care for which they received funding from the State Ministry of Baden Wurttemberg. 

The COVID-19 period has led to more focus on informal care with the development of new training programmes and curricula for the workforce. Their role as independent organizations, not being part of a managing authority, has worked out very well in building a connection between the ministries of Economic and Social Affairs.

One of the important takeaways was to involve the citizens not only in the process of product development but also from the beginning of the development of the regional innovation strategy. The empowerment of citizens will also help to engage the agencies of the ministries on state-level in the transformation process of health care systems in addition to their funding role.

Just take the next step

A health crisis, global or national, tends to increase fear of the uncertain. As Astrid Kaag of the Province of Noord-Brabant implements the Brabant Outcomes Fund, a fund dedicated to social innovation, she is doubting her approach of trying to bring the pilot to the next level in her own organization.

The recommendation from the group was that she should not doubt herself and “just take the next step”. They concluded that the biggest strength is her own enthusiasm and intrinsic motivation.

ITHACA partners of Slovenia and Malopolska concluded that the most powerful way she could influence others in her organization is to keep using this personal style of storytelling when communicating the Brabant Outcomes Fund.