Project identification

Problems and challenges to be addressed by Cross4all

Today, due to a number of reasons, significant parts of the population living in the CB area, especially poor people, elderly, and persons with disabilities, suffer from low access to health and social services. These include poor living conditions, low education level, plethora of rural areas with limited access to health and social infrastructures and services, a limited availability of eHealth services, low levels of digital health literacy among citizens, and limited availability of accessible and specialized services.

Furthermore, in the recent years more and more citizens are crossing the borders to receive health and / or social services at better cost or quality. This phenomenon of medical tourism has raised new challenges for our health systems, as citizens, when crossing the borders, leave behind their medical data and documents, which results in medical errors, putting in risk the lives of many individuals.

Cross4all is aimed to establish a common strategy for addressing in a holistic and contemporary way these issues, increasing significantly the number of people that access the available health and social services in the CB.

The main target groups are elderly and people with disabilities, including children, people with chronic conditions and high-risk patients. The interventions of Cross4all are towards the establishment of inclusive health and social services, free of accessibility barriers, with particular focus on improving the management and CB use of the health and medical data of disadvantaged and high-risk citizens, including of CB medical tourists.

In this project, led by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the know-how, the experience and the tools gained from recent R&D projects of the two Universities (AUTH, FIKT) of the partnership shall be valorised. These are in the fields of Ambient Assisted Living and innovative ICT-based solutions for telemonitoring and care at home, and of cloud-based services and personal health records. In particular, Cross4all will establish a prototype cloud platform for improving the access of citizens with chronic conditions and persons with disabilities to specialised healthcare and social care services across the CB area. The envisioned platform shall act as one stop information point, where all CB citizens and medical tourists will be able to receive eHealth services and information about where to find specialised, accessible health and social services across the CB area.

The project will further design and implement two pilot cases in Ohrid and Neapoli-Sykies. In the context of these pilots, these two Municipalities, along with the Cardiovascular Diseases clinic from Ohrid, will work together on improving and extending their healthcare and social care services in order to better address the special needs of the target groups, through improved primary healthcare and social care services (preventive health services, diagnostic pre-assessment, guidance, prescription services, etc.) that will be friendly and fully accessible to citizens with chronic conditions and citizens with disabilities, including to children with disabilities.

Each of the tree Pilot Centers of the project will be equipped with mobile units (sets of wireless sensors and smart devices), and staff members will be trained appropriately in order to be able to deliver a large part of their services (preventive health services, diagnostic pre-assessment, guidance, prescription services, etc.) at the homes of people with disability and/or reduced mobility. In this way, the two Municipalities will act as prototype local centres of reference for the rest of the Municipalities that wish to tackle health Inequalities and improve access to health and social services for people with chronic conditions and disabilities, including the very poor and those living in rural and remote areas.

Apart from the design and establishment of the aforementioned structures, and apart from the elaboration of these ICT applications, the project activities include:    

  1. pilot interconnection of the cloud platform with existing eHealth services,    
  2. publicity and raising awareness activities,
  3. workshops and seminars for health professional across the CB area, and for improving self-management skills of citizens,
  4. production of a multilingual printed guide of health and social services for all available in the CB, made also available in alternative formats appropriate for readers with various types of disabilities.

Project’s approach

The project partners have worked on an elaborated work plan to systematic meet the project goals and objectives, as follows.

First the partners will share and further exchange know-how and experience in the fields (WP1 technical meetings). Further knowledge and information on good practices will be accumulated through studies (WP3.1) and study visits abroad (WP6.5, all project partners) in countries with similar centres of excellence in Europe. In parallel and in order to better map the needs and analyse them, NCDP and the Municipality of Ohrid will perform data collection and physical inspections in health and social service providers across the region. This will also lead to a catalogue of accessible health and social services available in the CB area (WP3.3).

Having in hand these resources, then all the partners will work together, in consultation with other stakeholders, in order to develop a common strategy and joint action plan for developing inclusive health and social services, and come up with proposed strategies and interventions that need to take place at national, regional and local levels (WP3.3).

Then the project efforts in WP3.3 will be directed towards raising the awareness and improving the capacity of care professionals (Partners P2, P5, P6), while in WP3.4 a similar effort will be oriented to citizens and vulnerable groups.

The next phase of the project, in WP4, will focus on developing common tools and resources, exploiting the opportunities offered by making smart and effective use of new technologies. A joint cloud platform (WP4.1) for offering access to all the data emerging from the inspections of WP3.2 will be implemented by NCDP capitalising its extensive know-how on eAccessibility and eInclusion. This platform will be connected with a mobile application also developed by NCDP for citizens and medical tourists who wish to have access on the move to the Portal’s contents.

This platform will integrate: (a) an innovative electronic personal health record (EPHR) for CB use, developed by AUTH building on its previous successful prototype systems, (b) an e-learning on health and digital health literacy and (c) prototype e-Prescription and e-Referral systems developed by FIKT, which is involved in the development of such systems at national level in their country.

In WP5, the technical partners will work on the development of ICT tools for supporting the operation of the project’s new Centers centres of reference for health issues. Their networking will be facilitated by mechanisms of WP4.1 and they will be equipped with:

  1. mobile apps (AUTH) and mobile sets for partners PB2, PB5 and PB6 (vital signs sensors and equipment, etc.) for performing preventive health onsite but also at home, and
  2. mobile kits for remote citizens that after a first visit are identified as in need for short-period tele-monitoring (supported by medical stuff of PB6, and external experts from PB2 and PB5).

Then, the project partners will be in the position to implement (a) a Pilot Programme in the areas of two Municipalities (WP6.1), to offer to citizens of the target groups preventive services and support to digitalize their health records, and (b) a Pilot programme of Mobile Units reaching out individuals at remote and isolated areas. These two phases (6 and 3 months) will be supported by the joint Help Desk of WP4.5.

Finally, the project will focus on assessing the impact of its activities and preparing its sustainability & transferability plans (WP6.3 and 6.4).