Reference sites on Active and Healthy Ageing: A comprehensive innovation strategy

As a result of the Call for Reference sites 2016 launched in December 2015 at the Conference of Partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, a total of 74 regional and local organisations have been awarded "Reference Site" status.

Reference sites on Active and Healthy Ageing: A comprehensive innovation strategy

Sector Barbastro. Aragón

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A total of 74 regional and local organisations have been awarded "Reference Site" status for their comprehensive strategies to advance innovation for active and healthy ageing.

As a result of the Call for Reference sites 2016 launched in December 2015 at the Conference of Partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, a total of 74 regional and local organisations have been awarded "Reference Site" status.

These organisations have demonstrated the existence of comprehensive strategies to advance innovation for active and healthy ageing, based on a "Quadruple Helix" model that includes stakeholders from industry, civil society, academia and government authorities at a regional and local level.

Together these regions represent a commitment of over four billion € (2016-2019 period) to invest in innovative solutions that will lead to improvements in the quality of life of the ageing population, support efficiencies and sustainability of health and social care delivery and finally, stimulate economic growth and competitiveness. These investments will benefit an expected five million people in the next three years.



The Reference Site status is granted to organisations who have demonstrated excellence in the development, adoption and scaling up of innovative practices for active and healthy ageing, in line with the strategic objectives of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) and particularly the European Scaling Up Strategy for Innovation in Active and Healthy Ageing. The Scaling Up strategy supports the European Commission priority of establishing a Digital Single Market to unlock online opportunities for digital products and services.

For the first time, as a result of the peer-review and expert review process in the 2016 Call, and given the "national and cross-regional dimension" of the applicant's activities, the panel of experts has decided to award the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the status of "National Reference for Excellence in promoting Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing". Future calls will further explore the potential to have government-led National initiatives interested in participating in the EIP on AHA, proving an opportunity to showcase their innovative practices and contribution to scaling up innovation for the ageing population.


The Badalona Municipality Reference Site

Badalona positions itself as a regional leader in the health and social care area in Catalonia. The local commitment to innovate health and social care starts with the will of the City Council to promote and directly manage a comprehensive model of health and social care which began more than 80 years ago. One of the characteristics that defined the course of history in the city of Badalona and remains one of its pillars is its people-centred approach. This philosophy continues to guide the nearly 4,300 professionals who work in various services, companies and municipal bodies in the provision of health and social care.

This commitment to a holistic approach on ‘health in all policies’ has been possible thanks to a coordinated strategy of services deployment for citizens based on the establishment of multidisciplinary working teams acting locally according to the Health Community Plans setup in the neighbourhoods. Badalona has a strong network of social support and civil society organizations that are very active and participative contributing to both helping within the provision of care and also shaping the health model. 

Badalona has as a priority the prevention and promotion of care, focusing on the health determinants to avoid developing chronic conditions, reinforcing actions on children and families, promoting education on positive parenting and focusing on active and healthy ageing in order to increase the amount of healthy years. The interventions deployed follow an integrated approach, touching upon different environments within the city context: school, district, health environment, community and home.

The protective and risk factors on which the city aims to act are those with greater importance from the point of view of increasing wellbeing and life years free of dependence with, i.e. healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco, alcohol, other addictions, emotional well-being, improved safety and the environment as well as the prevention of risk determinants of social exclusion.

The overall strategy deployed by the city has allowed gaining strength in interventions focused in prevention and health promotion, reinforcing the community-based interventions and the coordination with the different environments (health, social, educational and community) always based on the guiding principles of: comprehensive vision, scientific evidence, social cohesion, participation, evaluation and health in all policies. 

We could say that there are five main characteristics that define the specialization of the city of Badalona:

- Willingness to exercise regional leadership in local policies and health provision model.

- Full coverage of the continuum of care for people: prevention, promotion and care provision centred on the person with a vision of community health.

- Orientation towards co-governance and the active role of citizens in decision-making.

- Prioritizing action on the determinants of health inequality by addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people to achieve greater equity in health.

- Investing on a future oriented strategy on innovation and research based on the use of new technologies.


Badalona’s major projects

In addition to the characteristics mentioned above there are currently three major projects that the city is leading which are:

- Badalona Towards a Healthy City: a project that defines a model that encourages and promotes healthy lifestyles among citizens and helps to prevent the disease with a participatory approach and networking.

- “Badalona Serveis Assistencials” and “Universitat Oberta de Catalunya” R&D Chair: in order to promote innovation and research activities based on the use of technology in the fields of health and social care.

- Badalona Reference Site on EIP on AHA: where 24 stakeholders operating in the city and giving full coverage to the ‘Quadruple Helix of Innovation’ presented the application to become a Reference Site and obtained a status of 2 stars out of 4 possible.

The ecosystem that presented the application has now grown and more and more stakeholders are approaching the Badalona Reference Site in order to take advantage of the European collaboration and the shared knowledge in order to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Badalona, improve the care model and generate new business opportunities for companies.


 Aragón Region Reference Site

SALUD – Barbastro Healthcare Area (SALUD-SSBAR) is one of the 8 sectors that make up the Aragon Health Service (SALUD). SALUD is the public healthcare provider of all assistance levels including primary, specialized, socio-sanitary and mental health for the whole region of Aragón. SALUD-SSBAR is responsible for the provision of these services in the eastern half of the Spanish province of Huesca, one of the three regions make up the Aragón territory. The population density in this area is very low standing at 13.75 inhab/km², being one of the lowest in Spain and in the whole EU. Remarkably, the elderly people rate (aged more than 65) stands at 21,7%.

SALUD-SSBAR was awarded as Reference Site in 2016 by the EIP on AHA, recognizing its commitment to invest in innovation for active and healthy ageing, and supporting the transfer and scaling up of that innovation across Europe.

The implementation of new services in the AHA domain by SALUD follows a step-by-step process including piloting, evaluation, assessment, implementation and deployment of those services identified as successful, where SALUD-SSBAR acts as a living-lab of innovative practices. 

SALUD-SSBAR network is composed by partners at local, regional, national and international levels, including not only the public administration (healthcare and educational organisations), but also other academia institutions, the industry sector and the citizenship.

SALUD-SSBAR has worked in a very active manner in the last fifteen years in the deployment of several e-health solutions in the area. At first, the sector was provided with an IT infrastructure creating a niche of technology, communications and information systems that act as a base to build “vertical” applications. These applications are oriented to both facilitate the communication between assistance levels and to ease the sharing of information, and include teleconsultations (synchronous and asynchronous, between assistance levels and also horizontally), tele-advise and video-conference. Some concrete examples of services that have been deployed along the whole territory are tele-dermatology (resolution performance around 80%), tele-retinopathy, tele-psychiatry, tele-radiology, tele-stroke management, tele-emergency and digital electrocardiography.

In addition, there are other lines with a high coverage in the prevention field: screening of cervix cancer (70,5% coverage), colorectal cancer (89%), breast cancer (81,1%), diabetic retinopathy (73,3%), children deafness or programs for poly-medicated elders.


Integral care for chronic patients 

As in Badalona, one of the strategic lines of the organization is the integral care for chronic patients. Several programs have enhanced the business model designed for the Telemonitoring project DREAMING, including the horizontal integration of care among providers with the aim of putting the patient in the center of a framework of integrated care. Projects as PITES, RESATER and specially have paved the way towards a sustainable model of quality integrated care provision. Thanks to the SMARTCARE project and their key achievements and agreements signed, SALUD is on the way of deploying integrated care services for chronic patients on a wider scale on the territory.

SALUD-SSBAR, as a public service, is also committed to the dissemination of knowledge through the participation in studies as the SIMPHS3, knowledge networks as e-RESATER, collaboration coordination projects as PITES, publications of good practices in the repository of the EIP-AHA site, and the participation in several workshops and conferences. 

The SALUD mission includes also the promotion of healthy lifestyles, the accessibility to services and the maintenance of the patients’ autonomy. Projects as SUSTAINS and CSVI have contributed to empower the citizen in health management and to facilitate the access to clinical services through digital resources.



Veli Stroetmann – Empirica

Strahil Virow – Empirica

Jordi Piera – Badalona Serveis Assistencials

Modesto Sierra – SALUD-SSBAR