The background of the project
The cross-border area is a rather rural area including remote villages with difficult access to large urban centers where health-care units exist. As a result, the rural population does not receive primary healthcare services. The proposed project aims at solving this problem by providing healthcare services to the targeted population on a regular basis with an emphasis on prevention and early diagnosis. In particular, the project will develop two mobile health care units (one for each country) staffed with a multidisciplinary team (a general doctor, a nurse and a social worker) that will visit the population on a regular basis. Each mobile health unit is expected to serve 128 patients from the first month and 100 additional people during the second month. During the first visit each patient will be treated by all the members of the team, the necessary tests will be completed, the medical history of the patient will be recorded, as well as their symptoms and proposed method for treatment. This will be executed according to a standard protocol especially developed for this purpose. The second visit should be arranged at about 15 days after the first meeting, while the rest of the meetings are going to be held on a monthly basis. Further visits depend on the population to be served and the type of services to be provided.
Each region will identify the framework of the provided services, the ICT services that be developed and the patients data that should be recorded. This includes to identify the requirements of each region regarding the healthcare service provision of rural areas and the development of the operation plan and a business plan for the mobile units operation. Additionally, a digital system for the recording and monitoring of the patients’ health status will be developed. All patients will have a personal electronic health file. Patients’ medical history, exams and the medical treatments they received from the mobile unit will be recorded. The electronic health file will be accessible by the hospitals in case the patient need to be transferred there. The project has a major social added value as it provides primary health-care services to the rural population with difficult access to health-care institutions. The provision of primary health-care services leads to early diagnosis of diseases and their effective treatment. This results in the improvement of citizens’ health, in less hospital admissions and consequently in reduced costs for the healthcare sector.
Finally, the cross-border cooperation in this project is of great importance as it will test the effectiveness of the project in two different states with different healthcare structure but with a major similar problem: the difficulty of access of rural population to healthcare units. This approach will enhance the transferability of the project in other regions, countries with similar characteristics.
Objective of the project
The proposed project aims to improve access to primary health care in the rural cross border areas where population has difficult access to healthcare units. In particular, in both regions a mobile health care unit will be purchased. Each mobile unit will be properly configured and equiped with medical and ICT equipement. Additionally, each unit will be staffed with health care professionals, i.e. a doctor, a nurse and a physician. An information system for recording the medical history and the exams of the patients will also be developed. The system will utilize well-known medical protocols for recording patients’ data, e.g. HL7, Peppol standards.
The mobile units will operate through a regulated plan (protocol, under supervision of the installed joint committee on both regions), with responsible care professionals who place an emphasis on early diagnosis and prevention (e.g. not only vaccination but also learning elementary self-management techniques to remain healthy) and utilizing the nowadays Information and Communication technologies. Within the frameworkof a common strategy (roadmap), each region will formulate its business plan for the mobile unit service including the service-, the technical- unit’s soft/hard ware requirements. According to this plan, the pilot application of the mobile health units is set up in order to form a well-functioning network with the other primary health care organisations.
The project promotes social inclusion and combats poverty and discrimination as it provides healthcare services to people of remote areas who do not have easy access to healthcare structures. Consequently, it reduces inequalities in terms of health status.
However, HealthNet’s more significant contribution to the Programme is the improvement access to primary health care at isolated and deprived communities in the cross border area.
Expected outputs of the project
The proposed expected outputs are tangible and measurable, relating to the project activities and objectives. According to the work packages and to activities that the project contain, the expected outputs are the following:
- Decrease of the number of hospital admissions and consequently decrease of secondary and tertiary health costs
- Protection of vulnerable social groups from hospital infections and provision of information to these groups about self-management techniques to handle their own health situations
- Improvement of the psychological condition of vulnerable social groups
- Improvement of the quality of life for the habitats of the rural areas
- Promotion of prevention and early diagnosis
- Reduction of health care costs
- Training of the caregivers and health professionals to incorporate a professional responsible attitude and to handle ICT smart devices,
- Collection and production of the documentation procedure of the patients’ medical history and the medical treatments they received from the mobile unit.
- Developments of a feasibility study of the mobile health units.
- An interregional MoU and forming the starting points for further joint actions.
It is noted here that the project main objective is the provision of primary healthcare services to remote population. One of the pillars of the reformation of the health system in Greece is the authorization of municipalities to provide health care services. Therefore, the project offers a great opportunity, among others, to test the feasibility of this type of intervention. Even more, the cross border approach will give the Consortium the opportunity to evaluate and compare the provision of primary healthcare services by local authorities in different countries and come to useful conclusions that could be used in the future.
The project’s added value stem from the similar living conditions (many remote villages populated mostly by elderly and deprived families) in the CB area.
The project partners will share human and economic resources, competences and know-how, experiences and best practices in order to achieve the optimum results.
In particular, the approach we follow in this project is the primary integrated healthcare, an innovative concept that has been implemented with success in many European countries. However, Greece and FYROM have not implemented such an approach yet.
The expected results from the project’s implementation could be described as follows: Improvement of cooperation to respond to common problems regarding social integration issues, exchange of best practices, networks creation and joint health & social integration protocols, improvement of provided primary health services and elimination of the conditions excluding sensitive social groups, by the introduction of mobile units for those social groups which are not able to reach the nearest primary health centers. Project’s results are mainly focuses on equal opportunities and battling discrimination, as the project aims to improve services and conditions providing on sensitive social groups.
In particular, the project leads to: (a) the reorganization of two institutions: the healthcare provision unit of the Municipality Novo Selo and the healthcare provision unit of the Municipality of Iraklia, (b) the development of two health ICT systems, one for Greece and one for FYROM and (c) the provision of primary healthcare services to the rural population of the area, i.e. 11,567 FYROM and 21,145 Greek citizens, total 32,712 citizens that live to the rural cross border areas.
Furthermore, the project will implemented an innovative approach for the provision of primary healthcare services by a local authority and a hospital in the CB area. Thus, we will come to useful conclusions that could be used in the future.