Tampere University Hospital opens a platform for patient organizations and volunteers

Non-governmental patient organizations are getting closer to the patients and hospital operations in Tampere. Hospital District of Tampere Region and Tampere University Hospital are developing the co-work between third-sector organizations and special health care. By the NGO patient organizations in this article, we mean civil society – third-sector organizations – that operate non-profit, mainly in the areas of healthcare and patient support.

The patient organization space will open in Tampere University Hospital in September 2019 together with the new main lobby, which is currently under construction. The physical space will be located with the immediate contact with the main lobby area. The space will also be offered as a digital platform with artificial intelligent involved. The platform is a part of the Smart Health digitalization project of the City of Tampere.

Patient organization’s role in hospital health care

Patient organizations play a significant role in developing the health care services from the patient’s point of view. The support offered by patient organizations consists of information, advocacy, rehabilitation, social events and peer support for both the patients and their family members. The network of patient organizations in Finland is extensive.

Being close to the patients helps the patients and organizations to meet each other at the early phase.

The hospital has to be able to support the patient holistically. A close contact with patient organizations enables the patients to get the support they need in their daily lives, says hospital district’s Chief Nursing Director Tiina Surakka.

The physical patient organization space will be coordinated by the hospital while all the activities are produced by the patient organizations. In the patient organization space there is always a person available either from the organization or of hospital personnel.

The biggest patient organizations are already involved and eager to develop the concept even further. The goal of the project is to create a natural continuum and operation model for university hospital and NGO cooperation.

Digital platform making it smart

The objective of the coming-soon digital platform is to collect all the NGO parties and their services together, and work as an organizing tool for both the patients and professionals. The digital space will operate on Vapaaehtoistyo.fi platform that has over ten years’ experience of coordinating the volunteer work in Finland with over 26 000 volunteers and over 1000 assignments.

On the platform on Tampere University Hospital page, the patient support will be visible and organized for the user. Together with the physical space the digital platform helps the patient to connect with volunteers that offer peer support. Peer support is a type of personal support offered by a person that has went through the similar kind of illness themselves and with addition to that, has the patient organization’s training for offering peer support. Peer support organized by patient organizations helps significantly in relapse prevention and rehabilitation.

The digital platform will utilize AI in coordinating the volunteer work. Artificial intelligence is based on learning algorithms.

Digitalization brings the AI in our daily lives. It is our future workmate and colleague. This is also a new opening for patient care and volunteering, envisions Ilkka Kalmanlehto, Producer of Vapaaehtoistyo.fi.

The AI will help the volunteers to work smarter and the patients to find the best support easier by learning the most needed services at certain points on the patients’ path. Thus it will be able to suggest and motivate both the patients and the volunteers.

Tampere University Hospital will be the first in Finland to pilot AI in coordinating and organizing volunteer work and peer support.

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