Video consultation in palliative care – Norrbotten, Sweden

In February 2017, a project started in Norrbotten to develop a work model that enables patients, relatives and healthcare professionals in rural areas to have video consultations with specialist physicians and counselling palliative care teams.

The county of Norrbotten covers one quarter of Sweden's area and has about 250,000 inhabitants. The county has large parts of rural countryside with long distances and is one of Europe’s most sparsely populated regions. In the county there are 14 municipalities responsible for social care and the Region of Norrbotten, responsible for health care, has one County hospital and four district hospitals divided into five community healthcare areas.

The responsibility for general palliative care in Norrbotten rests on primary care General Practitioners, municipal home care and nursing homes. It is supported by specialized palliative care consisting of palliative counselling team and palliative inpatient-care units at each hospital in the county.

The health care professionals in the rural areas can by using a laptop or tablet set up a video conference meeting with a palliative counselling team in another location for consultation or follow-up. The new way of working improves the opportunities for patient and relatives to receive qualified support for palliative care directly at home. Video consultations reduce travel especially for the patient but also for staff and increase the prerequisites for optimal utilization of the palliative counselling teams limited medical resources.

Distance assessments and follow-ups have previously been done by telephone only, but now with the new technology, it is possible to provide safer assessments through video conference technology.

The target group for the project is patients with palliative care connected to palliative resources, their close relatives and health care professionals in five rural municipalities in Norrbotten.

The RemoAge Project is moving rapidly towards the finish line. While the RemoAge pilots only will continue to be co-funded by the Northern Arctic and Periphery Program whom has made RemoAge possible for a few additional months I am very proud to already be able to say that RemoAge Services will continue to make a difference after the project period. The very successful project teams in the Shetland Islands, Western isles, Tromsö and Norrbotten has worked very hard to put the necessary conditions in place for continued service delivery and development also after the projects duration.

 

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