SZR: Innovative eHealth in care for the elderly

Read about Stichting Zorgcentra Rivierenland (SZR), a leading provider of senior health services in the Netherlands, and their quest for eHealth and the experiences of SZR with digital healthcare solutions.

SZR helps elderly in the region Rivierenland to live as independently as possible, both in their homes as in the care centres. The specialists of the treatment centre work in a multidisciplinary team closely together to deliver effective and efficient care. Within the treatment centre the physiotherapists deliver both primary and rehabilitation care. We spoke to Eveline Freeriks, Michiel Heevel and Ilse Wassenberg, all three working as a physical therapist in the treatment centre of SZR, to find out about how eHealth works for them in their daily work.

Ilse tells us: 

“In the future digital healthcare will play a very big role”. 

“In the future digital healthcare will play a very big role. The opportunities out there will make sure people can get started themselves and you see that the target user groups are changing. People would like to take charge of their own treatment.”

Michiel adds: “It does indeed have to do with the target group, not everyone is able to easily use an iPad but this is changing. In parallel to that there’s a change in the mind-set: previously, clients wanted to hear from their practitioner what needed to happen, they wanted the practitioner to help them in every step they took. Now they want to hear what needs to be done ahead of the appointment so they can start practicing themselves.”

“When it comes to innovation, I think there are a lot of interesting developments in healthcare” says Eveline. “However, these solutions are often difficult to apply in daily practice or are financially a very large investment.”

SZR started looking for a digital solution to offer patients self-management and support for charge of their treatment process, both for rehabilitation and primary care. Eveline started to investigate potential providers by searching the internet and visiting events and conferences.

“I find this very interesting and I try to keep up to date with new developments,” says Eveline. I noticed that prescribing homemade drawings with stick figures didn’t work that well”

In the end, SZR tried out different solutions and started comparing them, and 6 months ago they chose Physitrack as their provider.

“The great thing about Physitrack is that you can get started right away, even with an older audience that needs to be looked after.”

“The great thing about Physitrack is that you can get started right away, even with an older audience that needs to be looked after. This works positively for the whole team,” confirms Eveline. “The great thing about this application is that you can get started right away, even with an older audience that still very much needs to be looked after. You start with very simple exercises and gradually build up. The elderly learns fast and start getting faster and proficient at it.”

Ilse: “I notice that the elderly really like to be able to evaluate their own treatment. If I use Physitrack, I see that this stimulates them. It is important for them that they can visualise their exercises; It’s not just an exercise on paper anymore but they can actually see their own progression.”

The question whether eHealth connects to the older audience or not is positively answered:

“The upcoming older generation gets more familiar with the use of smartphones,” says Ilse.

“The elderly are more interested in the possibilities of technology and this group is also going to be much bigger.” Michiel adds: “I definitely see a lot of older people who can work with an iPad or smartphone, although they handle the devices in a different way. For the elderly it needs to be more simple and more accessible than for younger generations.”

"I definitely see a lot of older people who can work with an iPad or smartphone, although they handle the devices in a different way”

The therapists often print the exercises, but they provide a number of active iPad users with digital exercise programs. In most cases, carers (close family) are instructed to download the app for the patient and occasionally the therapist has a chance to download the app and give an instruction on the use. A feature that the therapists often use within the platform is indicating ‘favourites’ so they can easily find their exercises in the library.

“What is sometimes difficult in our profession is finding the right balance between setting up self-management or choose to remain in charge,” explains Eveline. “You can use Physitrack in different ways and it helps to find the right balance with every individual patient. This doesn’t always work like you expected but you have to be ready to risk making mistakes. It is important to keep in mind that you should invest some time up front to save time later and that’s a mind switch you have to make.” Michiel adds in conclusions:

“Physitrack is a convenient and easy-to-use innovation that supports the transition to self-management very well and has been a good match to our older target group.”

In addition to the use of Physitrack SZR has a lot of ideas in the field of healthcare innovation and wants to use more digital applications to train patients and clients even better.

To find out more about SZR and their innovative initiatives, visit https://www.szr.nl/!.

Read more success stories...