DICARE: Catalonia shares best practices of health and social care with representatives from Scotland and Finland | DHU Twinnings

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Barcelona hosted the first face-to-face meeting of the project DICARE, funded under the Digital Health Uptake Twinning Programme. Over the course of three days, representatives from the social and health care systems of Catalonia shared experiences in implementing digital solutions supporting the integration of health and social care with their homologues in Scotland and Finland.

With the aim to disseminate best practices, generate learning, and provide information about long-term digitization strategies, this first workshop of the project was structured into two different sessions. The first one, a public conference facilitated by Diplocat, centred on the issue of integrated health and social care in sparsely populated areas. The second session comprised an exclusive two-day internal meeting, dedicated solely to exploring Catalonia’s strategy and initiatives concerning the integration of health and social care.

Diplocat conference: ‘Isolated but well assisted’

The goal of the Diplocat’s conference ‘Isolated but well assisted’ was to incentivize the study and exchange of international best practice models applicable to health and social care in remote or sparsely populated areas of Catalonia, thus contributing to geographical levelling up and the fight against depopulation.

The conference started with a keynote speech about key policy and deployment trends in European digital transformation and integrated care. Then, two fruitful discussions followed: the first roundtable looked at innovative experiences from Sweden, Scotland, Finland and Catalonia and how they use digital tools in the health and social care sectors to facilitate their work in remote areas; and the second, examined the specific measures that are being implemented to achieve quality health and social care in rural and sparsely populated areas.

Internal meeting

After the successful conference in Diplocat, the representatives from Catalonia, Scotland and Finland joined under the auspices of TIC Salut Social Foundation for two days. This meeting aimed to present in detail the Catalan strategy for the integration of health and social care and some of the most significant projects and initiatives that are being led in the region, such as the agenda of the Integrated Health and Social Care, the new Master Plan of Digital Transformation, the deployment of a unique electronic Primary Health care record in Catalonia with new functionalities for both individual and population based-care, the Plan of Digital Transformation of the Social Services, or the Development of the W Social Platform as a new social care record in Catalonia, among other topics.


The representatives participating in the workshop agreed on the unique opportunity of this twinning experience, which allows them to share common challenges and innovative strategies and learn from the Catalan best practices. 

Donna Henderson, Head of International Relations, Finance Directorate of Health and Social Care, Digital and Governance, from the Government of Scotland, said after the second day of the meeting that “although I knew a lot about Catalonia and what you have been working on, I did learn some new things. I learned an update about your digital health strategy and health plan (…) and it was good to see where you have come from”. According to her, these twinning workshops are inspirational and a really valuable learning opportunity that allows them to “go back home thinking about how we might do things differently”. 

Vesa Jormanainen, Senior Ministerial Assessor of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs from the Government of Finland, found these sessions to be not only informative but also a platform for sharing and receiving feedback on different approaches. He particularly appreciated “the enlightening presenters chosen, for example, the social work or social welfare issues, or the excellent presentation regarding the digital transformation that is taking place here in Catalonia”. 

Joan Carles Contel, member of the Strategic Directorate of Integrated Care at the Directorate General of Health Planning and Research at the Catalan Department of Health, found the meetings to be instrumental in advancing the Catalonia integrated care agenda. He noted, “The discussions allowed us to delve deeper into key elements, overcome barriers, and progress further with our integrated care agenda in Catalonia”.

Next steps

After visiting Catalonia, partners will join again in Finland and Scotland in a couple of weeks to focus on their respective regional experiences regarding the integration of health and social care. Subsequently, project partners will seek the provision of expert services to outline technical and functional requirements for integrated health and social care, organize workshops with relevant stakeholders in each region to discuss findings and agree on their potential adoption to inform future development strategies and implementation plans in each region, and write a report on the key lessons learned.

Funding acknowledgement: the Digital Health Uptake has received funding from the European Union’s Digital Europe programme under grant agreement No.101083929