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The Hospital of Southern Norway and UiA collaborate on digital follow-up of HIV patients

The treatment of HIV patients works so well that 80 per cent of patients do not require follow-up appointments in hospital. The Hospital of Southern Norway (SSHF) and the University of Agder will now develop a fully digital solution for follow-up.

The picture shows the following people: assistant professor Anita Øgård Repal, associate professor Hege Mari Johnsen, postdoctoral research fellow Ellen Margrethe Iveland Ersfjord, associate professor Santiago Gil Martinez, patient representative Kim Fangen at the Hospital of Southern Norway, associate  professor Susanne Aune Solaas.
The Hospital of Southern Norway and UiA will develop Norway’s first completely digital treatment offer for HIV patients. Top column, left to right: assistant professor Anita Øgård Repal, associate professor Hege Mari Johnsen, postdoctoral research fellow Ellen Margrethe Iveland Ersfjord. Bottom column, left to right: associate professor Santiago Gil Martinez, patient representative Kim Fangen at the Hospital of Southern Norway, associate professor Susanne Aune Solaas.

The HIV medicines in use today are very effective, and face-to-face follow-up consultations in hospitals are unnecessary for a large part of the patient group. However, there is no digital alternative, and this pilot project will remedy that. The digital alternative will be a supplement to the treatment provided in hospitals, and this will be the first completely digital treatment offer for HIV patients in Norway.

Support from the Regional Research Fund

The Hospital of Southern Norway will develop the digital solution in a pilot project called ‘Digitalt pasientforløp’ (digital patient care pathway). UiA collaborates with the hospital on research and development activities related to the project. The research and development activities, called DIGPAS, have received NOK 300,000 from the Regional Research Fund (RFF) Agder.

Through the pilot project, researchers are looking to gain greater insight into the patients’ needs and expectations of a digital patient care pathway, develop a co-creation methodology to ensure user participation, and examine how patients experience using digital solutions. Patients will be interviewed and invited to co-creation workshops together with user group representatives, health professionals, developers, and researchers.

The Department of Health and Nursing Science and the Centre for e-health at UiA are participating in the pilot project. The research group consists of Associate Professor Hege Mari Johnsen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Ellen Ersfjord, Associate Professor Santiago Martinez, Assistant Professor Anita Øgård-Repål and Assistant Professor Susanne Aune Solaas.

Want to bring together researchers to larger project

The goal of the DIGPAS pilot project is also to develop a larger project in connection with SSHF’s quality and modernisation project (KOM).

In this larger project, the aim is to bring together researchers from a number of faculties and departments at UiA to ensure a high degree of interdisciplinarity.

The quality and modernisation project consists of five modules. Module 1 is about developing user-controlled care pathways. In module 2, a database of experienced users will be created to give an overview of patients who can provide voluntary support for other patients with a similar illness/disorder. In module 3, a peer programme will be implemented where patients are offered peer support as part of their treatment plan. Module 4 involves the employment of user experts in clinics, which means that patients with disease experience will be the ones who administer the peer programme. Module 5 is about developing digital patient care pathways.

Project Manager Hege-Mari Johnsen says that researchers at UiA are welcome to get in touch if they are interested in getting involved in one of the project modules.