Reducing the number of pharmacotherapy-related calls was one aim of an Evondos pilot project conducted by the Central Ostrobothnia Joint Municipal Authority for Social and Health (Soite). This project successfully reduced the monthly total number of home calls from 518 to 182, eliminating 336 calls through the use of ten medicine-dispensing robots, or 34 home calls for each homecare client using a medicine-dispensing robot.
A study by Tampere University of Technology has found that deployment of the Evondos service often progresses in stages.
At the first stage, care staff and homecare clients become accustomed to using the medicine-dispensing robot. Calls to the client’s home continue as before, ensuring that the client is able to use the medicine-dispensing robot successfully. This stage generally takes a few weeks.
At the second stage, the number of homecare calls can be reduced. The customer manages with the medicine-dispensing robot and attends to personal medication independently.
At the third stage, the homecare organization often begins to review its own practices. This review reduces the number of calls still further and may increase the duration of calls in some cases, as multiple measures may be taken when calling the client. A greater proportion of calls may also be scheduled at off-peak times in the middle of the day and in the early afternoons.
Pharmacotherapy-related calls can be reduced when the robot has been programmed to manage the process of dispensing and administering medicines. The medicine-dispensing robot issues reminders of the need to take medicines and sends an alert if the client fails to respond to these reminders.
Several local authorities have reviewed the financial impacts of using the Evondos service. The service has helped to reduce the need for medication calls, assigning responsibility for taking medicines to the client with the robot providing support and assistance.
The City of Oulu has become the first local authority in Finland to incorporate the Evondos service into its homecare portfolio for all clients. The city estimates that the service will improve the quality of pharmacotherapy for 40 per cent of homecare clients, but that deployment is only financially justifiable for about one fifth. Oulu began extensive deployment of the Evondos service in November 2018.
Care functions are largely scheduled in the morning, making this the busiest time of day for care staff. Technology can help to relieve pressures at this peak time. Alleviating the morning rush can also reduce costs. Staffing of work shifts is often determined according to morning or evening peak period requirements, meaning that any alleviation of these peak times would also create an opportunity to redimension staffing levels.
Pharmacotherapy is often time-critical, meaning that medicines must be taken at a certain time in order for treatment to proceed as planned by a medical practitioner. This constrains care staff work plans and nursing schedules. A medicine-dispensing robot can help to alleviate the pressures caused by this time-critical process, enabling more flexible planning of work schedules, for example with homecare calls shifted away from the morning peak period. Assigning control of routine pharmacotherapy to a robot enables rescheduling of functions away from peak periods. The workload can be distributed more evenly across the working day and allow for more meaningful tasks for the home care staff, and home-care clients.
Experience have demonstrated that home care clients are positive towards using robots and technology in their daily lives. Even clients with impaired cognitive and motor functions can manage well with such devices.
The Evondos medicine-dispensing robot was specifically designed to meet the needs of diverse users. The robot has just one large control button. It issues medication instructions both in spoken form and by displaying large-print text and symbols on a big screen. Anyone who can operate a doorbell can also use an Evondos robot.
Using a medicine-dispensing robot to take medicines independently is an important demonstration of independent living for many homecare clients, who are keen to manage without assistance and not depend on others.
Homecare clients feel that they have regained control of an important aspect of their lives by taking their own medicines independently, as they do not need to wait for the home care staff. This enables the clients to be self-efficient in organizing their daily routine.
A medicine-dispensing robot can help to improve homecare operations, enabling staff to focus on therapeutic measures and freeing up time for them to get to know the client instead of continually attending to urgent medication calls.
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