Engineering: leader della Digital Transformation

Telemedicine

Five questions to...
Laura Calvanico

Our PA and Healthcare Consulting Manager describes the developments, benefits, and importance of Telemedicine within the health ecosystem.

1.

DURING THE PANDEMIC, THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT TELEMEDICINE AND SEVERAL INITIATIVES WERE IMPLEMENTED - OFTEN DICTATED BY THE URGENCY OF THE MOMENT. WHICH STEPS ARE NOW NECESSARY TO "SYSTEMISE" TELEMEDICINE?

To systemise Telemedicine, there needs to be a cultural change that sees Telemedicine more as a stable resource for the care and treatment of citizens/patients rather than just a solution for managing emergencies.

This change has begun to take place, as demonstrated by a series of interventions aimed at providing greater clarity on Telemedicine. In particular, these include therecent guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and the appearance of Telemedicine in the PNRR as a contribution to the "mission" of founding the healthcare of tomorrow. This change, however, is yet to reach its full maturity at all levels of the National Health System, especially in terms of governance aspects (e.g. regulatory, remuneration) and, last but not least, organisational aspects. In fact, for a "systematic" form of Telemedicine, a clear organisational background model on which to graft and shape the appropriate technological support (which, if taken out of context, would be ineffective), is essential.

In this sense, the adoption of robust technological solutions will also help to consolidate its position. Telemedicine requires innovative, flexible, and secure solutions that can support and enable all the services it can offer.
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2.

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TELEMEDICINE AND PROXIMITY MEDICINE?

Telemedicine is the highest/most extreme declination of proximity medicine, which, in short, aims to bring the healthcare services that are available closer to citizens/patients, so that hospitals are no longer regarded as the only place of care. Consider, for example, health homes, outpatient clinics for chronic conditions and home care as proximity health structures and services.

In particular, Telemedicine supports the concept of proximity in two main ways. The first entails moving the care to the patient's own home (e.g. the patient detects his/her vital parameters independently at home and transmits them to healthcare professionals who can monitor his/her condition remotely). The second gives the patient the possibility of visiting nearby healthcare facilities to carry out examinations that can be reported/evaluated by specialised professionals located elsewhere (e.g. the remote reporting of an electrocardiogram).

3.

WHAT ARE THE FUNDAMENTAL BENEFITS OF TELEMEDICINE?

Telemedicine offers many benefits, which can be summarised in two macro areas:

  • benefits for the healthcare system as a whole: Telemedicine helps to ensure equity of access to treatments, especially in terms of the possibility of reaching disadvantaged areas (e.g. mountainous areas) where health services may be scarce. It is also capable of providing a strong impetus to territorial/local medicine, thus contributing to the optimal use of the resources of the National Health System (e.g. decreasing inaccurate hospital admissions or the duration of stays in hospital)
  • benefits for assistance and treatment: Telemedicine can be considered as a fundamental ingredient for the effective management of chronic pathologies, which today represent an absolute priority for health organisations (due to their epidemiological incidence). In this context, Telemedicine promotes continuity of care (for example through remote patient monitoring), a multidisciplinary approach and remote collaboration between healthcare professionals even from different care settings (hospitals, territories) as well as patient empowerment. These are all essential elements for providing chronic patients with appropriate care.
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4.

WHAT IS ENGINEERING'S CONTRIBUTION TO TELEMEDICINE?

Here at Engineering, we boast a profound understanding of the healthcare sector and extensive specific experience in the field of research projects with a focus on Telemedicine. We are now grafting these skills onto our platform ellipse. This allows us to support healthcare organisations in defining their own model of Telemedicine processes and subsequently deploying application solutions that are consistent with this model and can respond fully to the needs of professionals and patients. This is a project approach that rewards and enhances the unique aspects of each Telemedicine initiative.

An additional contribution is provided by the way that Telemedicine solutions are designed: these solutions are designed and then evaluated together with final users (doctors, nurses, patients, caregivers). Our journey began with solutions to support remote medical examinations (Televisits) and remote monitoring (Telemonitoring) and is gradually being enriched with other solutions. Throughout this journey, we maintain a strong focus on how to better exploit enabling technologies (e.g. AI & Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning) to enhance our Telemedicine services.

5.

HOW DOES TELEMEDICINE FIT INTO THE HEALTH ECOSYSTEM THAT WE AT ENGINEERING ARE HELPING TO BUILD?

Telemedicine is not an island - far from it. It is one of the elements that helps to outline Engineering's health ecosystem in all its innovativeness and propensity to meet the challenges of healthcare today and in the future.

Specifically, Telemedicine functions "at the service" of the other solutions that make up the health ecosystem, supporting traditional clinical processes of diagnosis and treatment to transform them and ensure that they can be effective even at a distance, and enhancing local assistance services, making them ready to support the most up-to-date models of assistance and care.

Telemedicine must therefore be a natural and homogeneous extension of the corporate information system, i.e. fully integrated with the other application solutions, contributing to the realisation of a health pathway (which also functions digitally) with the ultimate aim of taking care of patients.
Laura Calvanico

Laura Calvanico

In Engineering since 2008, Laura has dealt with the clinical-healthcare and territorial processes, analyzing their organizational evolution, the impact on digitalization and contributing to the evolution of the solutions and services offered by the Group.

Laura is also one of the authors of the "E-Health" and "Telemedicine" White Papers.

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Tel. (+39) 06-87591