Context

Frederiksberg Hospital (Denmark) is creating an opportunity to improve overall performance in the care of COPD patients. Patients prefer staying at home over being in hospital. Hospitals, and the welfare system in general, would also benefit if more patients were treated in their homes. There is the possibility of a win-win solution for the patients and for the hospital when considering a telemedicine solution.

Telemedicine has great potential to improve the way heath care is provided worldwide. Some good results have been obtained already, but much more could be done to improve the everyday practice. Frederiksberg Hospital has the motivation and a care framework which will shortly be implemented through an interesting pilot project for treating COPD patients.

Currently, the decision to send a patient home creates a split between the way treatment is delivered in hospital and the way it is delivered at home. The overall idea of telemedicine is to avoid that split and create greater continuity between the first phase spent at the hospital and the follow-up treatments and relationship with the medical staff.

The designer’s challenge is to create a service system that enables an open communication between the patient, his/her family and friends, the medical staff, and possibly other patients. Students considered the following issues throughout their explorations:

Privacy: Telemedicine raises the issue of privacy in circumstances when the medical staff can constantly monitor patients. The challenge is to design a flexible solution where the level of privacy can change depending on the patient’s health conditions.

Reliability:
The solution has to be reliable, both for the primary users (the patients and the medical staff) and for the secondary users (patients’ families and friends, insurance companies, etc.).

Efficiency: The solution should generate better overall performance in treating COPD patients and decrease costs and logistics throughout the entire process of care.

Lifestyle: The solution should aim at creating a new lifestyle standard for all users involved. Telemedicine requires a deep change in the patient’s every day practice/routine. In order to make such changes acceptable or desired, we need to propose a solution that is attractive and easy to use.

User-friendliness: The solution should be easy to adopt for all users involved. People should feel comfortable and not intimidated by using telemedicine solutions. The interfaces to access the system must be easy to understand and to use.