Seidi Erätuli from Klinik (left) and Tanja Salo from Soite were both speakers at the Future Hospital event on 15 March 2018 in Helsinki. Both of them stress the security of the service. The emergency service department cannot access the data on a medical condition until the patient arrives, and the text messages are encrypted. Photo: Jaana Tapio
The Central Ostrobothnia Joint Municipal Authority for Social and Health Services, Soite, is participating in a pilot to test the Klinik online service at the emergency department. Artificial intelligence guides patients to the right place to receive treatment.
The 78,000 inhabitants in the region of the Joint Municipal Authority for Social and Health Services, Soite, in Central Ostrobothnia can now access all the health services online. Whether emergency or non-emergency care is needed, the algorithm of the Oireapu ('Symptom aid') service makes a first assessment of the patient's medical condition and guides them to the right place.
“If the symptoms point to a condition requiring emergency care, the service advises the patient to call or come to the emergency department, or call the emergency response centre. When the patient arrives at the emergency department, a medical professional assesses the need for treatment, as required by law. The first assessment produced by the algorithm assists nurses in their work”, says nurse Tanja Salo from Soite.
If the symptoms point to a non-emergency condition, the health centre contacts the patient within 1–2 weekdays.
According to Salo, it is hoped that the service will let nurses focus their time more on care instead of managing the congested telephone service. Time is also saved when the patient's descriptions of their symptoms can be directly copied to their medical record.
Another thing that the service should help is the clarification of care pathways.
“Patients often come directly to the reception desk at the emergency department, even if their symptoms do not point to a condition requiring emergency care. We hope that the service will help to guide patients directly to the right place.”
For the patient, the benefit of the service lies in the fact that they can access the service from their sofa at home.
“We hope that Oireapu will reduce the patients' lack of awareness and will make access to treatment easier, as they do not have to wait in a call queue”, Salo says.
The pilot has been running for only a few weeks, but there has already been plenty of interest. In the whole of Finland, the Klinik online service is in use at more than 80 health centres, and more than 600,000 people can access the service.
“So far, we have operated in primary healthcare and oral healthcare, and now we want to find out how the solution works in the emergency department,” says the customer success manager at Klinik, Seidi Erätuli.
According to Erätuli, the idea of Oireapu in medical conditions requiring emergency care is the same as in Klinik's online service as a whole: when a patient accesses the service, they do not have to know whether they require emergency or non-emergency care, but the algorithm guides them to the right place.
“The difference is that patients with emergency conditions are asked to personally seek care at a medical facility, while non-emergency patients are contacted by the medical staff”, says Erätuli.
In operation from the start of 2017, the Central Ostrobothnia Joint Municipal Authority for Social and Health Services, Soite, aggregates basic and special public services, and social and healthcare services in the region. There are 10 municipalities located in the Soite area, with a population of approximately 78,000 people. The Central Ostrobothnia Central Hospital is the nearest emergency hospital for approximately 200,000 inhabitants.