Providing care safely through video consultations
As the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up pressure on health and care services worldwide, we rapidly reviewed a range of technologies on behalf of the Norwegian Directorate of Health. Our aim was to identify those with greatest potential to make services safer. Video consultations quickly emerged as a frontrunner. They can eliminate the need for a vulnerable person to visit a doctor’s surgery or a hospital clinic. They can also allow carers to check whether a client is safe and well without having to enter their home. And for care home residents who can no longer receive family visits, a video call can be the next-best alternative.
We worked fast to help the local authorities identify the most suitable off-the-shelf solutions to enable video consultations in a range of settings. Then we developed practical guidance to help individual councils start using the new technology as soon as possible. This included designing protocols for setting up and running video consultations securely, and making sure suitable devices were available for elderly users.
Accelerating procurement of medicine robots
We identified robotic medicine dispensers as a second promising technology. These connected devices, which store and dispense individual doses of medicine, can be used to remind people when to take their medicines and to control the quantity available. The devices can show care workers that medication has been taken and can eliminate the need for a physical visit. It can also help people stick with their treatment and avoid health complications from failing to take medication regularly.
We developed and launched a process to support the rapid procurement of thousands of devices over the next four years. The aim was to extend the gains in safety and efficiency that councils already using the devices had experienced. The combined procurement would make the devices more affordable for individual councils.
We brought our procurement experts in alongside our health and IT specialists. We worked closely with lawyers to set up an accelerated, compliant procurement process. From our recommendations and business case, through publication of the procurement, to contract award took just over two months. We also developed ‘plug & play’ guides to demonstrate how the devices can support care delivery and guide councils in rapid implementation.
Expanding capacity to care
Our work is changing the way some care services are delivered in Norway. As well as helping keep vulnerable people and care workers safer, these technologies are improving efficiency to help carers meet the increased demand for their services through the crisis.