The Center for Innovative Medical Technology (CIMT) at Odense University Hospital (OUH) in Denmark is developing innovative technologies to improve patient care and clinical work flows. Claus Duedal Pedersen, Chief Consultant at the OUH innovation unit, talked about a video-based project to treat COPD patients at home.
ME e-magazine: What is the story that originated the CIMT?
Claus Duedal Pedersen: It really is a development that has taken place over the past 15 years. The basic idea was to connect technology specialists and healthcare professionals and thereby deliver services to patients in new ways. So we set up a number of projects, such as the Patient Briefcase in 2006, where we experimented with video conferencing to treat COPD patients at home. However, healthcare is an evidence-based business and around 2009 we realized that we were not doing enough in that direction. So in order to have the scientific capacity to conduct serious studies around our projects, we created the CIMT.
ME e-magazine: The Patient Briefcase was one of your earliest video-based projects. How did you come up with the idea?
Claus Duedal Pedersen: The pulmonary department in one of the hospitals approached us, wishing to change the way they were delivering care to people with COPD. Their main issue was that these patients were in and out of the hospital too frequently – on average they needed to be admitted about four times a year for six to eight days each. They told us, that if we were able to give them a technology that provides them with a picture of the patient and a way to remotely take pulse oximetry and spirometry measurements, they would be able to treat these patients at home. So we cooperated with a small company to build the device, had a prototype commissioned and started a small trial. Afterwards we built more evidence in a bigger randomized control study.
ME e-magazine: How did patients’ lives change by using the Patient Briefcase?
Claus Duedal Pedersen: We found that we were able to treat the COPD patients as good at home as in the hospital. On average, patients with acute COPD exacerbations could be sent home after only one day. Typically upon being discharged from the hospital the technology would be set up in the patient’s home, and they would get an appointment for their first Patient Briefcase session. A specialized nurse would then call the patient to discuss general wellbeing or changes to the medication, and instruct them to take lung-function measurements or do exercises.
The suitcase was designed for particular ease of use as the average age of the patients in our trial was 78 years – the oldest was 96. We now use the video-based Patient Briefcase technology also for people with other conditions besides COPD, such as liver failure, heart disease, or psychiatric disorders.
ME e-magazine: What were the key challenges when you developed the Patient Briefcase?
Claus Duedal Pedersen: The first two years of development we focused on making the technology work. Afterwards it was more about handling change management and building evidence. Currently we are mainly looking to improve the business model to make the Patient Briefcase economically sustainable in the long run. Also, the technology is changing a lot at the moment – the final version of the suitcase will be more of a software-based system.
We now use the video-based Patient Briefcase technology also for people with other conditions besides COPD, such as liver failure, heart disease, or psychiatric disorders.
ME e-magazine: Can you tell us something about other CIMT projects that also use video technology?
Claus Duedal Pedersen: We have several other innovation projects that use video for patient care and treatment. For example in our relatively new MasterMind study that is being rolled out across more than ten European countries, we use it as a component in innovative service models for patients with depression. The main goal of this project is to change the management of depression from a face-to-face-treatment to a self-managed care using a web-based online tool as well as video conferences between patients, general practitioners, and specialists.
On the other hand, we also use video technology to improve work flows between healthcare professionals. For example, we have established regular multi-screen video conference meetings for administrative and clinical hospital staff.
ME e-magazine: Where do you see the overall role of video in medical work flows evolving in the future?
Claus Duedal Pedersen: In Denmark and the rest of Europe we are moving to a much more centralized healthcare system. Video will be one of the tools to secure access for patients to specialized medical services, without any need for long distance travelling.