Evidence shows that the implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) enabled services supporting integrated dementia care represents an opportunity that faces multi-pronged challenges. First, the provision of dementia support is fragmented and often inappropriate. Second, available ICT solutions in this field do not address the full spectrum of support needs arising across an individual's whole dementia journey. Current solutions fail to harness the potential of available validated e-health services, such as telehealth and telecare, for the purposes of dementia care. Third, there is a lack of understanding of how viable business models in this field can operate. The field comprises both professional and non-professional players that interact and have roles to play in ensuring that useful technologies are developed, implemented and used.
Starting from a literature review, including relevant pilot projects for ICT-based dementia care, we define the major requirements of a system able to overcome the limitations evidenced in the literature, and how this system should be integrated in the socio-technical ecosystem characterizing this disease. From here, we define the DEDICATE architecture of such a system, and the conceptual framework mapping the architecture over the requirements.
We identified three macro-requirements, namely the need to overcome: deficient technology innovation, deficient service process innovation, and deficient business models innovation. The proposed architecture is a three level architecture in which the center (data layer) includes patients' and informal caregivers' preferences, memories, and other personal data relevant to sustain the dementia journey, is connected through a middleware (service layer), which guarantees core IT services and integration, to dedicated applications (application layer) to sustain dementia care (formal support services, FSS), and to existing formal care infrastructures, in order to guarantee care coordination (care coordination services, CCS).
The proposed DEDICATE architecture and framework envisages a feasible means to overcome the present barriers by: (1) developing and integrating technologies that can follow the patient and the caregivers throughout the development of the condition, since the early stages in which the patient is able to build up preferences and memories will be used in the later stages to maximise personalization and thereby improve efficacy and usability (technology innovation); (2) guaranteeing the care coordination between formal and informal caregivers, and giving an active yet supported role to the latter (service innovation); and (3) integrating existing infrastructures and care models to decrease the cost of the overall care pathway, by improving system interoperability (business model innovation).