Customer story

A digital entrance to healthcare

Region Norrbotten took help from Platform24 to create an integrated digital entrance to healthcare. The solution is called Digital and involves a smoother patient journey, appreciated by both patients and staff.

Category

Region

Location

Sweden

Service

Primary care

A digital entrance – an answer to the region’s geographical challenges

Region Norrbotten is sparsely populated, with huge distances and the population’s care needs are rising while recruitment of healthcare staff has become increasingly difficult.

According to Anders Nordin, IT/MT Director at Region Norrbotten, the Platform24 solution is one of several jigsaw puzzle pieces in a greater strategy where technology alone isn’t the decisive factor.

”The major change is how the staff adapts its way of working. We selected Platform24 in the fall of 2019 in order to launch our digital entrance before the end of the year. Previous IT projects required us to build our own IT environments, but now we have procured an external service that simplifies matters significantly. Platform24 is in charge of operation and maintenance of the service and we need to integrate it with our other IT environment.”

Anders Nordin. IT/MT Director at Region Norrbotten

Press picture, Pia Näsvall

”We needed to find new ways. We have many patients with multiple ailments who have extensive contact with their healthcare providers. Also, we have large patient groups with simpler healthcare needs that don’t require the same physical care. By meeting these patients digitally we’re able to free up resources for those who need us physically.”

Pia Näsvall, Chief Physician at Region Norrbotten

How does the digital entrance work?

Digitalen can be reached via 1177.se or a text message link sent from the telephone queue at 1177. The patient logs on by using BankID on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Then, via an automated chat function, they get to provide answers to relevant questions regarding their complaint.

Based on these answers the patient is given self-care advice, being referred to emergency care, or offered the option to chat with a nurse. Once the medical history is compiled, the nurse may prioritize patients in line depending on their degree of urgency. The case may also be transferred to a physician or appropriate psychiatric care professional. Also, the nurse may schedule appointments for the patient at the primary care center while the medical record is updated simultaneously.

Kickstart for the digital care platform

When the corona pandemic hit Sweden and Norrbotten, 1177 and primary care centers were as expected quickly overwhelmed. Digitalen, therefore, became an important complementary addition for maintaining good healthcare access for Norrbotten’s residents.

– During this period, we had more options available. We helped more people without having to increase staff while maintaining a nice working environment, with terrific patient contact, says Pia Näsvall, Chief Physician at Region Norrbotten.

One-third of those who used 1177 opted for the digital entrance and half of those cases that concerned covid-19 were directed to self-care services.

– We launched Digitalen the same day corona hit us and the following day corona was basically everywhere. We have helped a lot of patients when 1177 reached their maximum capacity. As expected, we received many questions about the coronavirus, but the usual questions – everything from ingrown nails to heart diseases remained the same, says Ann-Charlotte Öhman, district nurse at Digitalen.

Efficient flow and increased degree of self-service

The digital platform generates a seamless flow and it consists of self-care advisory services, transfers, digital final treatments, and referrals to the primary care center where the patient is listed. The option to upload pictures increases the probability of making the correct assessment compared to a phone consultation.

Half of the patients elect not to escalate the case to a physical meeting. Therefore, many patients find a solution to their medical inquiry, and their cases are finalized without increasing the workload for the healthcare staff.

400 cases

are administered by Digital and Platform24 on a daily basis

20%

of the patients receive automated self-care advice

This solution saves time as the patient is guided to the right care level from the start.

Pia Näsvall
Chief Physician at Region Norrbotten

Win-win for caregiver and patient

– This solution saves time as the patient is guided to the right care level from the start. If the patient’s needs require more than self-care advice and wishes to chat with a nurse, then the medical history is already in place. This saves a lot of time for the staff, says Pia Näsvall, Chief Physician at Region Norrbotten.

Both patients and healthcare staff give this service terrific grades and the staff really appreciates the chat. They say it has improved their working environment, with lower stress levels and increased efficiency as the chat enables them to make a more qualitative assessment compared to over the phone. The average grade from the staff is 4.75 out of 5.0.

”You can help most patients in a good and convenient way. I feel that I’m able to provide a higher degree of service compared to when in 1177. Now, I can schedule appointments with physicians, send referrals and not only transfer the patient. The chat gives a more “here and now feeling” and the conversation is more focused and to the point than over the phone. Also, for many patients, the chat makes it easier to answer more sensitive questions.”

Ann-Charlotte Öhman, district nurse at Digitalen.

The future care in Region Norrbotten

Region Norrbotten intends to implement the Platform24 solution all over the Region. In the first phase, Platform24 will be implemented in all regionally managed primary care units in the Region. During the second phase, Platform24 will also include specialized care.

– Today, the service is staffed by nurses at 1177, physicians from various healthcare centers in the Region, and psychiatrically trained staff. The idea is that all primary care units in the Region eventually will join in and thus enable the patient to meet the same staff regardless of having a physical or a digital meeting, says Anders Nordin.

How to succeed with implementing a digital healthcare platform on a regional level according to Anders Nordin

  • Be inspired by technology, but don’t use technology as a starting point.
  • Implement it step by step; starting all at once will be too hard.
  • Work with culture and digital competence among staff simultaneously.

About Region Norrbotten
  • It has Sweden’s largest land area of all regions.
  • It is Sweden’s northernmost region with some 250,000 inhabitants.
  • In addition to a vast assortment of primary care services, Region Norrbotten also offers complementary services such as child healthcare, maternal/pre-natal care, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and healthcare advisory via 1177.
  • Region Norrbotten runs some 30 healthcare centers and five hospitals in-house.
  • Region Norrbotten employs some 7,500 staff and a majority of them are healthcare professionals.
  • When asked about their user experiences with Digitalen patients frequently mention access, flexibility, professional interaction and relief over not having to travel. The average patient grade is 4.8 out of 5.0.

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