Barcelona, June 25th 2020
The transformation of Fundació ACE, published by Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Fundació ACE achieves 78% of visits during confinement thanks to its adaptation to telemedicine
• The entity adapts to the situation in record time, moving from face-to-face care to telemedicine in a matter of days
• Enquiries are made via video conferencing platforms such as WhatsApp, Skype, Teams or Facetime and, if not possible, by telephone
Fundació ACE, an entity dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and research of Alzheimer's disease, has adapted its care model to the context caused by the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus pandemic, in order to guarantee the protection, prevention and safety of its professionals and caregivers and to ensure continuity of care for individuals and families. The Fundació ACE's adaptation process has been published by the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
The entity, which had to close the Daycare Unit and stop the face-to-face activity of the Memory Unit, reformulated its entire organization to implement telemedicine and continue providing its services to patients, families and caregivers.
After the declaration of the state of alarm and once the telematic consultations were activated, a sudden drop in the total number of visits was recorded: while in January and February 2020 the Memory Unit made an average of 657 visits per week, in the week following the start of the confinement 254 visits were made, i.e. 60% less.
After this initial drop, activity in the Memory Unit was able to reach 78% of regular activity in six weeks -before 24 April-, showing a trend towards normality with 514 visits per week and thus approaching the pre-outbreak figure. The remaining 22% of visits could not be made for various reasons, such as family preference for face-to-face consultations or lack of telecommunications devices, among others.
An adapted care model
These figures show the ability of Fundació ACE to adapt to the situation in record time. In a matter of days, the entity went from a model of face-to-face care with a traditional approach to one based mainly on telemedicine, in an adapted and individualized manner, in which care is provided by a network of multidisciplinary teams of fully coordinated professionals. Fundació ACE carries out the consultations through videoconference platforms such as WhatsApp, Skype, Teams or Facetime and, if not possible, by telephone.
To do this, it was necessary to adapt the neurological, neuropsychological and social evaluation protocols to be carried out by videoconference and, in addition, the entity carried out an internal evaluation to find out how the professionals of Fundació ACE saw this rapid transition to telemedicine. In order to maintain the programmed activities, the entity developed new support and health education materials for this moment of crisis, monitored the health status of the 190 patients in the Daycare Unit through daily telephone contacts and the social work team made proactive psychosocial support calls to caregivers identified as being at greater risk of vulnerability.
Dr. Mercè Boada, neurologist, co-founder and medical director of Fundació ACE, says that "after the successful incorporation of telemedicine, it has become a real option for care. It allows patients and caregivers to choose between the face-to-face or telemedicine format at their convenience and, in our holistic model, this translates into inclusive care".
She also adds that "this transition to telemedicine has given us the ideal context in which to evaluate and improve our care. With this system we can provide quality dementia care to people in rural or remote areas who currently do not have easy access to these services.
The impact on research
Fundació ACE is firmly committed to research and is one of its main pillars. The situation forced the Clinical Trials Unit to temporarily suspend the recruitment of new participants, as well as all ongoing treatments. In these cases, each trial was analyzed individually to adapt to the situation without compromising the validity of the results..
Thus, Fundació ACE team made weekly calls to the 133 active clinical trial participants to monitor their health and established a specific circuit to manage the trial's adverse events and COVID-19 suspicious situations.
In this regard, Dr. Boada states that "research is the only way we have within our reach to advance knowledge and treatment of this dementia".
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