This proposal aims at supporting the upscale of a telecare screening and intervention Public service (SNS24) for elderly with risk of frailty, to a national level. Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts will join clinical experts in Ageing and the telecare service professionals to develop intelligent tools that aim at improving the efficiency of intervention pathways and the
cost-effectiveness of the national public health telecare service for senior citizens with frailty.

Old citizens are at greater risk of frailty and multiple chronic health conditions, as well also higher risk of poverty and social isolation, with negative consequences for their independence, safety and quality of life. Worldwide, the sustainability of healthcare systems is at risk in the ageing societies, as the lack of health prevention services leads to high demand for acute care. In the context of the societal challenge of Ageing, intelligent and well-designed digital services are important tools to fulfil the third goal for the sustainable development defined by United Nations: “Good Health and wellbeing” for 2030. Telecare digital solutions can support early risk detection of frailty, as also personalised intervention and interaction with senior citizens who live at home, in order to provide effective delivery of preventive healthcare.

The Programme The SNS24 (www.sns24.gov.pt) is a telephone and online service of the Portuguese National Health Service. As the Contact Centre of the National Health Service, it is an integral part of the SPMS – Shared Services of the Ministry of Health, E.P.E. It supports the citizens in advice with acute illness as well as non-emergent health complaints, and offers a set of services to solve health-related issues avoiding the need to go to primary care unit or hospital. In 2018, SNS 24 started a pilot program called Senior Proximity, with collaboration of primary healthcare institutions in two different regional areas (ACES Porto Oriental and ACES Oeste Sul), to target and support elderly population with frailty. The main objectives were to follow in a telecare service, a group of elderly citizens with frailty to: prevent health occurrences; early detect needs; promote integrated care in health, social and safety dimensions; and to contribute for a healthy and active ageing.

As this pilot is running with successful measures, there is the need to evaluate the impact of this telecare intervention in such a societal burden related to frail elderly. Two challenges are addressed in this proposal:

  • to develop an optimized model for personalised telecare interventions for the Elderly Portuguese population, in order to improve the effectiveness and scalability of the Senior Proximity program in the prevention of Health occurrences;
  • to develop an automatic method to measure the impact and cost-effectiveness of the SNS 24 Senior Proximity program through the use of artificial intelligence, in order to evaluate the feasibility of scaling-up this service to a national programme level.

In this project we will use a “problem solving” methodology and a team of researchers, healthcare providers and elderly will develop in a co-creation effort an effective and sustainable digital tool to promote a healthy and active environment for senior in Portugal delivered by the Portuguese National Health System.