News - 25-8 - How can technology help ensure the affordability of healthcare?

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How can technology help ensure the affordability of healthcare?

Costs are rising in different branches of the healthcare sector - or they will be in the coming years. Both the Flemish and the federal government are thus offering financial support in several areas. At the same time, technology can help ensure the affordability of care. But before we provide solutions for this, we must answer a different question: what requirements must/can our care facilities currently satisfy, and what costs are entailed thereby?

HOW MUCH DOES THE CARE COST?
Let´s first take a look at the figures for the residential care centres. In 2019 a resident paid an average of 59.05 euros per day in a Flemish residential care centre, i.e. around 1800 euros per month, according to the Agency for Care and Health. That’s more than the legal minimum pension for employees and the self-employed. The number of rest and nursing home beds for persons needing major care, for which the government provides extra funds, rose in 2017-2018 by 3,048, bringing the total to 46,615 beds. At the end of 1999 that figure was only 17,918.

 

Hospitals have already been struggling with low profit margins for several years now. In 2019 the average current result of Belgian hospitals was 0.48%, according to the annual sector analysis of Belfius. In recent years, therefore, the hospitals have had too little income, while the profits of today are necessary for the investments of tomorrow and the expenditures are increasing. At the same time, in recent years the number of care-giving personnel at all Belgian general hospitals has risen: from 64,393 in 2013 to 67,427 in 2019, according to the report of the FPS Public Health. That is the case because the number of hospital stays and thus patients continues to rise. Moreover, in our judgement the number of tests being conducted is pushing up the cost for care. Just like the far more comfortable accommodations that hospitals offer today. And then came the corona year 2020. Not only did costs keep rising, but revenues also fell more sharply. All of which put the affordability of care under even greater pressure.

Elderlywomanlookingatherutilitybills.jpg

According to Samana, which defends the interests of the chronically-ill and informal caregivers within the CM, on the level of the Flemish Region we need at least 1.6 billion euros in order to whittle down the waiting lists in mental healthcare. Here the affordability of the care is thus under very great pressure, and not just since yesterday. “In our country we have neglected to invest in these areas for many years. Only 6% of our budget goes to mental healthcare, psychological care is scarcely accessible”, says Koen Lowet of the Flemish Association of Clinical Psychologists.

 

“The wave of population ageing will really peak over the next five to ten years, and so a serious multi-track policy will have to be pursued”, explained Margot Cloet, managing director of Zorgnet-Icuro, the umbrella of non-commercial healthcare organisations, at the beginning of 2020 in Het Belang Van Limburg. "More will have to be invested in home care. Because older people remain healthy longer - and thus stay in their homes longer - but at a given moment they are often nevertheless confronted with one or another chronic illness, as a result of which the number of elderly that need home care is growing."

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

For the exceptional corona year 2020 the hospitals could count on extra financial support from the federal government. According to the chief economist of Belfius, we have also reached a tipping point where the hospitals must be financed differently. The federal government´s coalition agreement devoted a great deal of attention to this, the newspaper De Morgen reports.


In order to be able to continue to provide high-quality care to the increasing number of people requiring major care in the residential care centres, Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke set aside 20.5 million euros, thus permitting Flemish residential care centres to hire an extra 340 caregivers. Although Minister Beke also wants a unified healthcare budget, whereby the social partners fear that the persons needing care the most will be the ones forced to make sacrifices.

 

Further, the Flemish government coalition agreement has earmarked 270 million euros for mental healthcare, according to this opinion piece on VRT NWS. At the same time, the federal government wants to invest 1.2 billion euros in mental healthcare each year until 2024: in each case 600 million for better pay and working conditions, 402 million for additional personnel, and 200 million in order to guarantee easier accessibility and better reimbursement, to connect operating levels and to assure smoother care provision.

 

And what about home care? It has seen substantial expansion, as Margot Cloet noted again in Het Belang Van Limburg. But it won´t be possible for things to remain as they presently stand for many more years, the managing director of Zorgnet-Icuro also warned.

REDUCING COSTS WITH TECHNOLOGY

The governments are thus providing a good deal of financial support. But the question is often whether that will be enough. And so care facilities are also trying to economise - and that´s where technology can help. For example, hospitals are saving money above all by forming clusters: in this way they no longer have to offer the full range of specialists everywhere.   
 

A classic for centralisation are the communication systems and emergency centres. Healthcare facilities thereby combine their budgets for evacuation, alarm and communication solutions in order to then invest in a single umbrella platform, such as LynX® connect. Naturally all healthcare facilities can make use of it. For this they have to get into the proverbial helicopter and view their facility from above. By doing so they immediately see which budgets they can merge together, in order to invest in technology on the organisational level. If they then make the right technological choices, they can offer the same or even better care quality with the same workforce, even if the number of residents and the intensity of care increase. Time for a few examples that make this clear immediately.   

LynX_General_Setup.png

MORE TIME FOR CORE TASKS AND GREATER WELL-BEING   

We recently launched LynX® hello: a solution with which those living in residential care centres can video call with family and friends via their TV, without any assistance. Friends and loved ones call the resident via the smartphone, and the latter picks up with a single push on an armband. Then the callers appear on the television screen, and they can hear and see one another. With this technology we are helping to break through the social isolation that seniors suffer from, without having to impose extra work on the staff. After all, there is absolutely no learning curve for the residents to master. Moreover, the solution scarcely increases the day price, as you can see here.
 

GOOD NIGHT CARE FOR MORE PEOPLE

At the same time, the staff in care facilities can perform their care tasks more efficiently, thanks to the right technology. Let´s give an example of this as well.

A residential care centre with one hundred residents typically has a night shift of two to three people. So when the number of seniors in the centre increases, do you have to add another employee to the night shift? Not necessarily. If the residential care centre opts for our LynX® first solution, the residents don a wearable sensor which precisely but discreetly forwards the wearer’s position to the alarm and communication platform LynX® connect. Or vital health parameters, if the centre uses our platform in combination with wearables from other manufacturers.

The LynX® connect system doesn´t just alert the staff; it first analyses the gathered data via AI in order to check whether a resident is really in a problematic situation. In this way the caregivers get far fewer false alarms and the same number of people can possibly assist more residents or give more care.
 

MORE EFFICIENT EVACUATION IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS

And what if there’s a fire alarm in the healthcare facility? Then the right people have to receive correct information at the right time, so that they can respond quickly and accurately. Smart technology can make the difference here. When you connect a fire control panel to LynX® connect, it can inform not only the fire team, but the rest of the healthcare facility as well. For example, via LED lighting of LynX® lifeline in the rooms and hallways, which guides people away from the seat of a fire to the proper emergency exit. Read more here about how this technology facilitates more efficient evacuations.  
 

STAYING AT HOME LONGER AND MORE SAFELY

Finally, what about the elderly who today wish to live in their own homes for as long as possible? Once again technology can provide substantial support, while at the same time ensuring the affordability of the care. For example, the platform LynX® home enables the person needing care, an informal caregiver and the official caregiver to communicate much more easily: digitally.

For this we equip the resident’s home with sensors which monitor his behaviour patterns and immediately inform family, friends and caregivers in case of an alarm situation. Moreover, older persons can call for help themselves at any time.


So the lesson is: invest in technology as well

With a few carefully thought-out investments in technology you can thus reduce other expenditures, such as wage costs, while continuing to provide excellent care. It is important hereby that you as a healthcare facility not try to solve each problem separately with in each case a different technology, on the micro-level. You must build up a basic technological infrastructure at the level of the entire organisation, for meeting several challenges at the same time, after which you can tailor the solution to each individual resident. Always with a view to a better care experience for the caregiver, the person needing care and his circle.  

 

ENSURE THE AFFORDABILITY OF YOUR CARE

Want to reduce the costs of your healthcare facility with technology, so as to maximise the quality and affordability of your care? And do you wonder what possibilities our solutions might offer for this? Don´t hesitate to contact us. We’ll review your needs together and see what our technology can do for you.

Costs are rising in different branches of the healthcare sector - or they will be in the coming years.

Share this message:

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How can technology help ensure the affordability of healthcare?

Costs are rising in different branches of the healthcare sector - or they will be in the coming years. Both the Flemish and the federal government are thus offering financial support in several areas. At the same time, technology can help ensure the affordability of care. But before we provide solutions for this, we must answer a different question: what requirements must/can our care facilities currently satisfy, and what costs are entailed thereby?

HOW MUCH DOES THE CARE COST?
Let´s first take a look at the figures for the residential care centres. In 2019 a resident paid an average of 59.05 euros per day in a Flemish residential care centre, i.e. around 1800 euros per month, according to the Agency for Care and Health. That’s more than the legal minimum pension for employees and the self-employed. The number of rest and nursing home beds for persons needing major care, for which the government provides extra funds, rose in 2017-2018 by 3,048, bringing the total to 46,615 beds. At the end of 1999 that figure was only 17,918.

 

Hospitals have already been struggling with low profit margins for several years now. In 2019 the average current result of Belgian hospitals was 0.48%, according to the annual sector analysis of Belfius. In recent years, therefore, the hospitals have had too little income, while the profits of today are necessary for the investments of tomorrow and the expenditures are increasing. At the same time, in recent years the number of care-giving personnel at all Belgian general hospitals has risen: from 64,393 in 2013 to 67,427 in 2019, according to the report of the FPS Public Health. That is the case because the number of hospital stays and thus patients continues to rise. Moreover, in our judgement the number of tests being conducted is pushing up the cost for care. Just like the far more comfortable accommodations that hospitals offer today. And then came the corona year 2020. Not only did costs keep rising, but revenues also fell more sharply. All of which put the affordability of care under even greater pressure.

According to Samana, which defends the interests of the chronically-ill and informal caregivers within the CM, on the level of the Flemish Region we need at least 1.6 billion euros in order to whittle down the waiting lists in mental healthcare. Here the affordability of the care is thus under very great pressure, and not just since yesterday. “In our country we have neglected to invest in these areas for many years. Only 6% of our budget goes to mental healthcare, psychological care is scarcely accessible”, says Koen Lowet of the Flemish Association of Clinical Psychologists.

 

“The wave of population ageing will really peak over the next five to ten years, and so a serious multi-track policy will have to be pursued”, explained Margot Cloet, managing director of Zorgnet-Icuro, the umbrella of non-commercial healthcare organisations, at the beginning of 2020 in Het Belang Van Limburg. "More will have to be invested in home care. Because older people remain healthy longer - and thus stay in their homes longer - but at a given moment they are often nevertheless confronted with one or another chronic illness, as a result of which the number of elderly that need home care is growing."

Elderlywomanlookingatherutilitybills.jpg

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

For the exceptional corona year 2020 the hospitals could count on extra financial support from the federal government. According to the chief economist of Belfius, we have also reached a tipping point where the hospitals must be financed differently. The federal government´s coalition agreement devoted a great deal of attention to this, the newspaper De Morgen reports.


In order to be able to continue to provide high-quality care to the increasing number of people requiring major care in the residential care centres, Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke set aside 20.5 million euros, thus permitting Flemish residential care centres to hire an extra 340 caregivers. Although Minister Beke also wants a unified healthcare budget, whereby the social partners fear that the persons needing care the most will be the ones forced to make sacrifices.

 

Further, the Flemish government coalition agreement has earmarked 270 million euros for mental healthcare, according to this opinion piece on VRT NWS. At the same time, the federal government wants to invest 1.2 billion euros in mental healthcare each year until 2024: in each case 600 million for better pay and working conditions, 402 million for additional personnel, and 200 million in order to guarantee easier accessibility and better reimbursement, to connect operating levels and to assure smoother care provision.

 

And what about home care? It has seen substantial expansion, as Margot Cloet noted again in Het Belang Van Limburg. But it won´t be possible for things to remain as they presently stand for many more years, the managing director of Zorgnet-Icuro also warned.

REDUCING COSTS WITH TECHNOLOGY

The governments are thus providing a good deal of financial support. But the question is often whether that will be enough. And so care facilities are also trying to economise - and that´s where technology can help. For example, hospitals are saving money above all by forming clusters: in this way they no longer have to offer the full range of specialists everywhere.   
 

A classic for centralisation are the communication systems and emergency centres. Healthcare facilities thereby combine their budgets for evacuation, alarm and communication solutions in order to then invest in a single umbrella platform, such as LynX® connect. Naturally all healthcare facilities can make use of it. For this they have to get into the proverbial helicopter and view their facility from above. By doing so they immediately see which budgets they can merge together, in order to invest in technology on the organisational level. If they then make the right technological choices, they can offer the same or even better care quality with the same workforce, even if the number of residents and the intensity of care increase. Time for a few examples that make this clear immediately.   

LynX_General_Setup.png

MORE TIME FOR CORE TASKS AND GREATER WELL-BEING   

We recently launched LynX® hello: a solution with which those living in residential care centres can video call with family and friends via their TV, without any assistance. Friends and loved ones call the resident via the smartphone, and the latter picks up with a single push on an armband. Then the callers appear on the television screen, and they can hear and see one another. With this technology we are helping to break through the social isolation that seniors suffer from, without having to impose extra work on the staff. After all, there is absolutely no learning curve for the residents to master. Moreover, the solution scarcely increases the day price, as you can see here.
 

GOOD NIGHT CARE FOR MORE PEOPLE

At the same time, the staff in care facilities can perform their care tasks more efficiently, thanks to the right technology. Let´s give an example of this as well.

A residential care centre with one hundred residents typically has a night shift of two to three people. So when the number of seniors in the centre increases, do you have to add another employee to the night shift? Not necessarily. If the residential care centre opts for our LynX® first solution, the residents don a wearable sensor which precisely but discreetly forwards the wearer’s position to the alarm and communication platform LynX® connect. Or vital health parameters, if the centre uses our platform in combination with wearables from other manufacturers.

The LynX® connect system doesn´t just alert the staff; it first analyses the gathered data via AI in order to check whether a resident is really in a problematic situation. In this way the caregivers get far fewer false alarms and the same number of people can possibly assist more residents or give more care.
 

MORE EFFICIENT EVACUATION IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS

And what if there’s a fire alarm in the healthcare facility? Then the right people have to receive correct information at the right time, so that they can respond quickly and accurately. Smart technology can make the difference here. When you connect a fire control panel to LynX® connect, it can inform not only the fire team, but the rest of the healthcare facility as well. For example, via LED lighting of LynX® lifeline in the rooms and hallways, which guides people away from the seat of a fire to the proper emergency exit. Read more here about how this technology facilitates more efficient evacuations.  
 

STAYING AT HOME LONGER AND MORE SAFELY

Finally, what about the elderly who today wish to live in their own homes for as long as possible? Once again technology can provide substantial support, while at the same time ensuring the affordability of the care. For example, the platform LynX® home enables the person needing care, an informal caregiver and the official caregiver to communicate much more easily: digitally.

For this we equip the resident’s home with sensors which monitor his behaviour patterns and immediately inform family, friends and caregivers in case of an alarm situation. Moreover, older persons can call for help themselves at any time.


So the lesson is: invest in technology as well

With a few carefully thought-out investments in technology you can thus reduce other expenditures, such as wage costs, while continuing to provide excellent care. It is important hereby that you as a healthcare facility not try to solve each problem separately with in each case a different technology, on the micro-level. You must build up a basic technological infrastructure at the level of the entire organisation, for meeting several challenges at the same time, after which you can tailor the solution to each individual resident. Always with a view to a better care experience for the caregiver, the person needing care and his circle.  

 

ENSURE THE AFFORDABILITY OF YOUR CARE

Want to reduce the costs of your healthcare facility with technology, so as to maximise the quality and affordability of your care? And do you wonder what possibilities our solutions might offer for this? Don´t hesitate to contact us. We’ll review your needs together and see what our technology can do for you.

Costs are rising in different branches of the healthcare sector - or they will be in the coming years.

Share this message:

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