A new collaboration to advance the use of digital health services in integrated care is being launched in Canada. Lead by the University of Toronto, the initiative will comprise researchers, practitioners and decision-makers who will collaborate under the ‘Value Aligned Digital Health Consortium’. The multi-stakeholder group aims to leverage research from projects that advance the use of digital health services to support delivery of high-quality and equitable person-centred integrated care.
Like many countries with a large and ageing population, Canada is focusing its efforts on meeting the health needs of a growing number of people with multiple, complex health and social care issues. The solution lies in implementing digital health services to support an integrated health system. While many provinces are successfully moving in this direction, they often lack insight into how digital health technologies can be embedded in integrated care.
The role of values
Vilans Researcher, Nick Zonneveld has been invited to contribute by sharing his research on the role of values in integrated care. His research, which was published in the International Journal of Integrated Care (IJIC), explores the importance of values underpinning integrated, people-centred health services and its role in care delivery.
Zonneveld: “We are trying to learn that if we implement technology in these services to facilitate integrated care, what are the important values that the technology needs to be built on. The objective is to develop a set of guidelines to support health systems and adopt the implementation of digital technologies in integrated care by aligning them with the values of multiple stakeholders such as patients and practitioners .”
Although a lot knowledge has been gained about the functional aspects of integrated health services, actual implementation remains challenging. Zonneveld says this is because in addition to technical activities, the delivery of integrated, people-centred health services involves several other people related aspects. For example, care practitioners from a variety of different backgrounds may use different values to assess and respond to cases. “Take for example, the different care approach between a midwife in primary care and a midwife at a hospital. The midwife at the hospital is trained to focus on effectiveness and avoiding risk, while the midwife in primary care has a more person-centred value framework based on a personal relationship with the client.”
Virtual deliberative dialogues
Through a system of virtual deliberative dialogues, the Consortium’s inaugural project will collect different perspectives and co-create solutions from patients, caregivers, frontline providers, administrative staff, and system leaders.
The dialogues will generate a set of digital health adoption guidelines for organisations and systems seeking to put a digital health service in place to enable integrated delivery of health and social care.
Community Advisory Committee
The work of the Consortium will be guided by a Community Advisory Committee representing diverse and under-represented voices of patients and caregivers. The Value Aligned Digital Health consortium hopes to build on the findings from digital health projects to set and pursue a research agenda that will catalyse research and system transformation efforts towards digitally enabled integrated care across Canada.
• Healthcare Excellence Canada
• Towards a values framework for integrated health services: an international Delphi study
• Values Underpinning Integrated, People-Centred Health Services: Similarities and Differences among Actor Groups Across Europe