M-health: Funding for the rehabilitation apps is another step forward

14/07/2020

The government will fund apps for the rehabilitation of patients with a full hip or knee replacement. It concerns applications to support the treatment at a physiotherapist or in the hospital remotely. Initially they will be used in a comparative clinical study.

Maggie De Block, Minister of Health: “Apps can provide enormous added value in healthcare. For example with rehabilitation: as a patient you receive personal feedback about your rehabilitation every day and you therefore no longer have to wait until your next appointment. And as a healthcare provider, you can continuously monitor the evolution of your patients and receive a warning if a patient needs special attention. ”

Comparative study

Mobile applications are included in the treatment plan for patients who receive a total hip or knee prosthesis for the first time. In a first phase, the NIHDI will finance its use in a clinical study from 1 October 2020. A classic rehabilitation program will be compared with a program supported by an app. Patients will not pay any co-payment or supplements for the use of the app and any associated sensors.

The study already gives patients who wish to access a rehabilitation program with remote support. In the meantime, policymakers, the healthcare sector and app developers can collect additional information about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of rehabilitation supported by an app. UZ Gent will coordinate the study, under the supervision of the Federal Knowledge Center. Currently, one app (moveUP) is eligible for the study.

The measure received the green light on the Insurance Committee of the NIHDI yesterday, 13 July 2020. Full details of the measure can be found on the NIHDI website.

Mobile Health Belgium

Funding for the use of apps in the context of clinical studies is another step forward in the whole m-health story. In October 2018, Minister De Block set up the Mobile Health Belgium platform together with sector federations Agoria and beMedTech, the Riziv, the FAMHP and the eHealth platform to give reliable mobile applications a place in healthcare. Companies can register their mobile applications for validation with that platform.

For the assessment, MHealth Belgium uses a validation pyramid consisting of three levels. The first level went live last year, apps at that level have a CE mark and are in accordance with the European General Data Protection Regulation. The second level was rolled out in May this year. In addition to all the requirements for level 1, second-level apps meet a series of strict ICT and privacy criteria and can communicate with existing digital applications in Belgian healthcare.

The NIHDI is currently developing a financing model for third and last level apps.

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