EU CommonWell Project Integrates Social Care Records and Emergency Services in Andalucía

TunstallTunstall Healthcare Ltd is a lead partner in an innovative telehealthcare project implemented in Andalusia, Spain, which integrates social care information with calls to emergency services to provide a more efficient response to people requiring help in a crisis. This service, already available for the whole telecare user base in Andalusia (176,605 users connected) improves the quality and efficiency of the response in case of emergency, as well as an optimization of resources in both the social and health services. The improvement in the service quality has an impact on the person's health condition and reduces their anxiety during a health emergency.

The project has been part of the EU CommonWell initiative which aimed to promote better quality and more economically efficient solutions for the provision of health and social services. Twelve partners from five European countries have participated in the project which utilise both telehealth and telecare technology.

The objective of the Andalusia Telecare Service, integrated in the Agency for Social Services and Dependency (ASSDA), part of the Andalucian Ministry for Health and Social wellbeing, is responsible for the support of independent living and granting care and safety to dependent people. This service, one of the most important telecare services in Europe, contributes to improve end people's quality of life.

Where protocol dictates, Telecare personnel in the Andalucía Telecare Service contact the emergency health service provider (the Public Company for Health Emergencies or EPES), which is responsible for responding to emergency calls from users in Andalusia, providing 24/7 support to its eight million inhabitants.

The CommonWell project provides Andalucía Telecare Service users with a high quality service by integrating the information from both emergency and social care services into one common platform. Integration includes voice and data transfer, enabling faster response in emergency situations. The new system enables Telecare personnel in the Andalucía Telecare Service to seamlessly transfer the call to EPES whilst they forward the caller details, providing reassurance, and once the call is closed down the system will automatically update the caller's social records with details of the event.

Steve Sadler, Group Chief Technology Officer at Tunstall Healthcare Group said, "For the first time we have a working system that links emergency calls and a caller's social care history. This new system means both the emergency services and social care have live, relevant information about their patients and can therefore offer a more efficient and effective service."

People using the telecare service are provided with a Tunstall Lifeline home unit and pendant, which allow them to raise a call for help simply by pressing the button on either the unit or on the pendant. These calls will be received at the ASSDA monitoring centre where trained operators ensure the service user receives appropriate and swift assistance.

The pilot ran from January 2011 to February 2012, and the evaluation process showed good results and high user satisfaction. To perform the evaluation, response times and resources were analysed, and questionnaires were answered by 500 end users and ASSDA's staff. These are some of the results:

  • Users declared that the new system made them feel less anxious during the emergency.
  • 84% of ASSDA's staff said the change impacted positively in their job.
  • The majority of ASSDA’s staff also declared that the new system decreased their workload and increased job satisfaction
  • 91% of staff identified benefits of the new system for users
  • Analysis of times and calls showed a reduction in the average time per call, both in EPES and ASSDA, as well as in the number of calls needed per case.

Overall, the CommonWell system implemented showed a reduction in costs, due to the reduction of number of calls and average duration per costs, as well as an increase in user's safety and reduction in anxiety in a health emergency.

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About Tunstall
Tunstall Healthcare Group is the market-leading provider of telehealthcare solutions, with over 2.5 million users globally. Tunstall's solutions support older people and those with long-term needs, to live independently, by effectively managing their health and well-being. Tunstall provides technology, expertise and advice to millions of people enabling them to lead independent more fulfilling lives.

About Commonwell
Commonwell is an EU initiative to promote better quality and more economically efficient solutions for the provision of health and social services. The project has participants from five European countries, and aims to support independent living and improve the quality of life for older people and those with long-term conditions.

12 partners are cooperating in the project, supported financially by the European Commission and coordinated by European consultants Empirica, to deliver ICT-enabled health and social care services in four Member States. The integrated services are to support the effective management of chronic disease, and to address issues which affect independence, such as reduced agility, vision or hearing, in order to significantly improve the quality of life for older people and their families. The project members are Milton Keynes Council, Stichting Smart Homes, Ev. Johanneswerk und Johanneswerk im Stadtteil, Empresa Pública de Emergencias Sanitarias, Fundación Andaluza de Servicios Sociales, Tunstall Healthcare, InterSystems, Work Research Centre and Empirica Communication and Technology Research.

A total of 400 users across four locations in Europe received the newly integrated services . The results of evaluating the pilot operation will be used to extend service provision and promote the wider uptake of this model of care across Europe.

The project is part funded by the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.

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