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BACKGROUND: In response to the increasing pressure of the societal challenge because of a graying society, a gulf of new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) supported care services (eCare) can now be noticed. Their common goal is to increase the quality of care while decreasing its costs. Smart Care Platforms (SCPs), installed in the homes of care-dependent people, foster the interoperability of these services and offer a set of eCare services that are complementary on one platform. These eCare services could not only result in more quality care for care receivers, but they also offer opportunities to care providers to optimize their processes.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to identify and describe the expected added values and impacts of integrating SCPs in current home care delivery processes for all actors. In addition, the potential economic impact of SCP deployment is quantified from the perspective of home care organizations.
METHODS: Semistructured and informal interviews and focus groups and cocreation workshops with service providers, managers of home care organizations, and formal and informal care providers led to the identification of added values of SCP integration. In a second step, process breakdown analyses of home care provisioning allowed defining the operational impact for home care organization. Impacts on 2 different process steps of providing home care were quantified. After modeling the investment, an economic evaluation compared the business as usual (BAU) scenario versus the integrated SCP scenario.
RESULTS: The added value of SCP integration for all actors involved in home care was identified. Most impacts were qualitative such as increase in peace of mind, better quality of care, strengthened involvement in care provisioning, and more transparent care communication. For home care organizations, integrating SCPs could lead to a decrease of 38% of the current annual expenses for two administrative process steps namely, care rescheduling and the billing for care provisioning.
CONCLUSIONS: Although integrating SCP in home care processes could affect both the quality of life of the care receiver and informal care giver, only scarce and weak evidence was found that supports this assumption. In contrast, there exists evidence that indicates the lack of the impact on quality of life of the care receiver while it increases the cost of care provisioning. However, our cost-benefit quantification model shows that integrating SCPs in home care provisioning could lead to a considerable decrease of costs for care administrative tasks. Because of this cost decreasing impact, we believe that the integration of SCPs will be driven by home care organizations instead of the care receivers themselves.
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