Welfare technology improves the quality of health and care services

A new report for the Norwegian National Welfare Technology Programme has established that the use of welfare technology improves the safety and quality of municipal health and care services for users, relatives and staff alike.

 

The report deals with findings and experiences from 34 municipalities that received grants during the period from 2013 to 2016 to trial welfare technology in their health and care services. The primary objective has been to develop services that enable those who are dependent on care to feel safer in their own homes, to feel more able to cope with everyday life, and to be able to continue living at home longer with the aid of technology.

 

Kristin Mehre, Department Director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, reports: “When service offerings that utilise welfare technology are well adapted to users’ needs, they provide increased safety and an experience of coping and independence for service users.”

 

The report also shows how the use of welfare technology provides substantial savings in time and cost and more efficient use of resources.

 

Recommendations from the Directorate of Health

The year 2016 was the last in which funds were granted to the municipalities included in the programme. It is recommended that the technologies that have produced a positive effect be continued as regular services. However, the successful use of welfare technology cannot come about by itself – it requires training, changes to working procedures, careful planning, and a willingness to offer services in new ways. Technology must replace all or parts of the service in order for there to be a benefit.

 

Having reviewed the findings from the trials, the Directorate of Health is recommending that municipal authorities particularly focus on the following technologies in their health and care services:

 

  • Positioning technology (GPS)
  • Electronic medication support
  • Electronic door locks

 

Some experiences from the municipalities

– Bergen: 18 users were permitted to try out electronic medication support. This played an important role in allowing the municipality to reduce the number of home visits by as much as 38 per cent, while the users experienced increased independence and ability to cope, reporting a greater level of satisfaction with the home care service than before.

 

– Bærum: The municipal authority saved time equivalent to 2.3 full-time staff in 2016 by adopting electronic medication support. This allowed the municipality to offer high-quality services to more users without having to increase the number of staff.

 

– Larvik: The municipal authority found that the number of home visits initially increased until the users became more comfortable with the technology, but then the number of visits was reduced after about two weeks.

 

These experiences will play a part in the technology being made available to more service users as these solutions are integrated into municipalities’ health and care services, and as more municipal authorities adopt welfare technology systems.