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Vilans participates in national consortium for value assessment research

Published on: 18-03-2024

Over the past year, Vilans has been intensively working on setting up a consortium of various parties that conduct independent value assessment research. More than twenty knowledge institutions in the Netherlands that conduct practice-based research on the use of (digital) technological aids in the healthcare sector, have already joined this national collaboration.

According to Vilans researcher Henk Herman Nap, this involves ‘applied research’ within healthcare, including elder care and disability care. Nap says, ‘Healthcare should be good, accessible, and affordable for everyone. The Integrated Care Agreement (IZA), which is an agreement between the Ministry of Health and insurance providers, states that appropriate care increasingly means hybrid (digital and physical) care. The tenets are: self-care if possible, at home if possible, and digital if possible. We really need to transform. By the end of 2025, at least seventy percent of all appropriate care will be digitally available or via a hybrid model, and the target is that at least fifty percent of clients, for whom hybrid care paths are suitable, will use them.’

Value Fan methodology

“Value determination is an important topic in this care transformation,” Nap admits. To determine the value of the application of digital care, Vilans established the Value Fan methodology in 2022. This method allows researchers to assess the contribution a hybrid care process makes to the quality, accessibility, affordability and sustainability of the care provided. These include the quality of life for the client, the job satisfaction of care employees, workload relief and the strengthening of the ability of employees and informal caregivers to self-organise.

Uniform valuation

The data that researchers collect with the Value Range methodology conforms better to a uniform structure. Nap: “Through uniform value assessment, you can link data files and stack outcomes. That way we can accelerate and decrease the pressure that is coming our way. At the moment, there are sometimes as many as thirty studies on the same technology. Within the Nursing and Care Homes and Home Care (VVT) sector alone, there will be some twenty value-added studies by 2024. Vilans can by no means manage this uniform data structure alone, so we are delighted that organisations like, AgeTech Works (Anders Werken in de Zorg or AWIZ), the Platform Inzet van Technologie voor Gezondheid en Welzijn (PIT), the National eHealth Living Lab (NeLL) and are now, together with Vilans, the leaders within the alliance of knowledge institutes.’

Vilans has long been conducting independent valuation research within AWIZ and other programs and projects. In 2023, for example, Vilans conducted research into value assessments of various digital healthcare applications based on existing research combined with additional interviews. Vilans conducted this research commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, for ZN’s Digital Care Knowledge Center. ZN will soon publish the results of these studies that looked at effective healthcare technologies on its website.

Workload and quality of life

The Vilans expert points out that the use of care technology can reduce the workload for employees and improve the quality of life for clients. ‘Take social robotics, for example, tools that support clients with cognitive impairments with their daily structure. The robot reminds the client of care appointments, taking medication or meal times. Our research shows that its use increases clients’ independence,” Nap says.

Soft and hard costs and benefits

Valuation involves many stakeholders; from clients and care workers to organisations, health insurers, care offices and municipalities. ‘It is crucial to properly identify these stakeholders and determine the measurement plan together. What is of value to them? Ultimately, a value assessment must result in ‘accepted evidence.’ In addition, of course, we include context and time, in addition to relevant ethical values, such as client autonomy, for example. Moreover, we always ask ourselves what are the soft and hard costs as well as the benefits. Change management in terms of adoption and acceptance of technology and training is essential for care transformation. Workload reduction is also needed, while minimal staffing is already sometimes difficult.In doing so, we are examining the impact of digital care on the quality and accessibility of care, as well as cost and sustainability.

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