Pioneering digital transformation of outpatient care

Oslo University Hospital and University Hospital of North Norway are pioneering digital transformation of outpatient care. - Both patients and healthcare personnel wonder why this has taken so long

This autumn, Dignio's platform for digital remote patient care will be piloted at Norwegian hospitals. - We have been waiting for this for a very long time, says project manager at Oslo University Hospital (OUS).

- Both patients and employees here at OUS wonder why these solutions have not existed before, says Lotte Sandberg Larsen, project manager for “Digital Outpatients” at the Department of Neurology at Oslo University Hospital (OUS).

The "Digital Outpatients” project will support patients to report symptoms and vital measurements via Dignio's app for digital remote patient monitoring, instead of having to meet up physically for an appointment set by the hospital each time they are in contact with a therapist.

- By having a digital outpatient clinic, we believe we can follow-up patients more closely, with a better basis for decision-making. It makes it possible to detect early signs of change so that we, for example, can adjust the medication dose, says Sandberg Larsen.

Project manager at Dignio, Anna Hurrød, is looking forward to having the first patients on board the solution.

- We are very much looking forward to supporting OUS in being able to deliver outpatient services in a new and more patient-centered way - something we believe is better for patients, clinicians, and society at large!

The project is supported by the Research Council of Norway, and the first patients will be enrolled in the digital outpatient clinic this autumn. In the first instance, this applies to selected epilepsy patients in the neurology department, as well as patients at the hospital's pain treatment clinic and lung clinic. The solution will also be tested in the cancer ward at the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN).

- All four patient groups in the project are very well suited to digital outpatient follow up, says Meetali Kakad, Chief Medical Officer at Dignio, and elaborates further: For cancer patients, we can capture side effects between chemotherapy treatments, by asking patients to submit regular measurements and respond to questionnaires via the MyDignio app. For patients at the pain management clinic, clinicians will use data submitted by the patient via the app to adjust pain medications to the right level for the patient including tapering medication where appropriatet. For the pulmonary fibrosis patients followed by the Respiratory clinic, patients will submit several different types of measurements important for assessing their condition, that are taken either at home or at a local hospital as well as follow up on side effects from medication.

Provides better follow-up and less strain for the patient

At the Neurology Department at OUS, the solution will initially be used by eighteen patients with an epilepsy diagnosis.

- Many patients have a stable epilepsy, which means that they have few or no seizures, thus do not need to show up for an appointment unless something changes. In those cases, it is unnecessary for the patient to interrupt their working day, just to come here and tell us everything is going well, says Sandberg Larsen at OUS.

And that is where Dignio's solution for remote patient monitoring comes in handy, she explains.

- Instead, they can use the Dignio app to inform us about relevant symptoms such as stress levels and headaches via a questionnaire. If the clinician sees that there is nothing abnormal, there is no need for further action. If there is something that perhaps should be reviewed more closely, the nurse can make further contact via chat, video consultation or set up a physical appointment. And if there is something that should be addressed immediately, they can put the patient in direct contact with the doctor or nurse. In addition to making life easier for patients, the goal is to provide better treatment and free up capacity that can be used elsewhere.

- With Digital Outpatients it will be possible to detect deterioration or side effects at an earlier phase, allowing for earlier intervention. Furthermore, it will be possible to free up capacity in the health care system without affecting quality, says Kakad in Dignio. Wee can use self-reported data from patients to prioritise physical appointments for those patients who really need to come into the clinic, and at the same time safely reduce unnecessary appointments or visits to the hospital for patients who do not need it.

And what do the patients themselves think? They are looking forward to being part of the digital outpatient clinic, according to Sandberg Larsen at OUS.

- The patients I have contacted think it is exciting. Several patients say they think it is about time they receive such an offer. To the extent that there is concern, it’s related to losing some of the follow-up when you reduce the number of physical checks. But it is important to emphasize that Digital Outpatients enables even closer follow-up, as it provides a channel for more regular and up-to-date contact with the health service.