RISE project to rescue elderly from isolation with quality of life enhancing IT

Athens 26 August 1998 State-of-the-art Information Technology (IT) applications tend to cut like a double-edged sword in modern society. On the one hand, IT solutions substantially improve the quality of life in general and of health care in particular for different population classes. On the other hand, people who are not familiar with current computer technology incur the risk to be completely cut off from social life and health care facilities. In order to break this shell of isolation which specifically threatens the elderly, who commonly feel reluctant towards novelties, RISE has been set up under the wings of the European Union Telematics Programme for the Disabled and Elderly (TIDE), as a three year project with a funding of 5 million ECU to care for the elderly in the Information Society Era.

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State-of-the-art Information Technology (IT) applications tend to cut like a double-edged sword in modern society. On the one hand, IT solutions substantially improve the quality of life in general and of health care in particular for different population classes. On the other hand, people who are not familiar with current computer technology incur the risk to be completely cut off from social life and health care facilities. In order to break this shell of isolation which specifically threatens the elderly, who commonly feel reluctant towards novelties, RISE has been set up under the wings of the European Union Telematics Programme for the Disabled and Elderly (TIDE), as a three year project with a funding of 5 million ECU to care for the elderly in the Information Society Era.

The RISE project that started out in January 1997, is managed by the Greek telemedicine software provider ATKOSoft, which acts as the project leader, and consists of an international consortium of partners from the Agia Eleni Hospital and the University of Patras in Greece, the ATM Group Europe AB and the Vellinge Municipality in Sweden, the Irish Southern Health Board, the University of Cassino and the Consorzio Pisa Ricerche in Italy, and the CALMAX Communications Company in the United Kingdom. Together, the partners aim at integrating the elderly in the information society through the implementation of a wide range of IT services for telemedicine, homecare support, entertainment, human communication and special interest groups support, as well as home system aspects.

As such, the elderly people will be offered a chance to form social groups of common interests, irrespective of geographical locations, in order to meet the specific problems they encounter, such as deteriorating health and physical condition, growing loneliness and dependency, and lots of spare time which needs to be filled with more or less challenging pass-time activity. The RISE project addresses all categories of elderly persons. Some are living alone but able to care for themselves, others stay within a family whose members often are absent. Some suffer from motion-related disability or handicaps, others from chronic diseases. Some have been discharged from hospital after medical treatment but still need to be looked after at home or in a closed care institution for further recovery, others are suffering from major diseases and in need of so-called terminal care.

For the implementation of the planned services, the partners will make use of multimedia, health telematics, smart cards and portable computers to provide specialized software care packages for integrated co-operation in Elderly Houses, in Centres of Closed Protection, such as Nursing Houses and clinics of chronic diseases, and of course also at private homes. Health professionals like physicians, nurses and therapists, as well as social workers and special trainers will apply the services, involving prevention, recovery, home care, public and insurance administration, security and intervention systems, etc. to enhance the autonomy of the elderly individual. The programmes will equally be adapted to disabled persons with special needs through the use of specific interfaces.

It goes without saying that the education and requirements level of the target group at the end of this century will differ from the one that will occur at the beginning of the 21st century. People change as much as technology does. In its final stage, the entire system will consist of a network of co-operating central sites, which will share medical information and provide the whole set of RISE tele-services to the elderly people. The partners thus hope to fulfil the vision, expressed during the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO), held in Vienna in 1982, which strives to "add life to years and not years to life". Please check out the RISE Web site for detailed information. The Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine also has reported on the NIVEMES and HealthLine projects, in which ATKOSoft equally is involved as prime contractor.


Leslie Versweyveld

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