One success story in this field is the monitoring and control kit based on the ‘eLifecare’ telemedicine platform of the Exprivia|Italtel group, developed for start-up HospitHome and used by 100 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the Canton of Ticino, Switzerland. A solution that could also prove to be effective in containing the spread of the virus during the so-called phase 2, the current phase, or in subsequent new waves of the illness.
Having previously trialled the ‘eLifecare’ platform for the home care of heart patients with severe arrhythmia and defibrillators, HospitHome quickly returned to the solution to monitor Covid-19 patients from the early phases of the emergency.
Telemedicine creates a safe and virtual space to provide treatment
Oxygen saturation, heartbeat and body temperature can be remotely measured 24 hours a day thanks to a tablet and an app that is able to send real time alerts to an operations centre. The measurement of simple vital signs offered by the HospitHome trial has completely revolutionised the lives of many people during the emergency, at the same time making it possible to contain the spread of the virus. In this case digital technology becomes a strategy for overcoming a sad contradiction created by the pandemic, that between patient care and the safety of health workers, making the patient’s contact with the hospital virtual in nature and moving the monitoring process into a digital space, immune from contagion.
The future of telemedicine: from emergency measure to standard treatment
Telemedicine is a tool for combating Covid-19, according to the indications published by the Italian Health Institute in April, because it guarantees “medical and assistance services for people who are self-isolating or who find themselves isolated as a result of social distancing regulations”. However, outside of emergency situations these solutions could become standard. In fact, telemedicine is based on a patient-centric vision which priorities the needs of those requiring medical care and, at the same time, is able to positively impact on the sustainability of health systems, lowering the number of admissions, occupying less space and speeding up diagnosis and operation waiting times.
The remote hospital to strengthen doctor-patient relations
Covid-19 has accelerated innovation processes in the healthcare sector, demonstrating the importance of systematically rethinking the concept of remote care away from hospitals. In fact, hospitals are increasingly likely to become treatment centres for acute patients with local authorities left to manage chronic patients and home care. However, hospitals cannot risk becoming distant and inaccessible places. On the contrary, they now have the chance to virtually extend their network of connections, placing doctors and patients in direct contact via digital technology. For example, video calls with consultants are a tool for developing a new relationship with patients that will grow stronger over time.
Telemedicine as a strategy rather than a technology
To deal with an emergency you need expertise and experience, also with digital technology. It is no time for improvisation. The instruments which have proven to be truly effective in the healthcare sector are not the result of choices made in an emergency situation. On the contrary, they are the natural evolution of past success stories. In fact, the kit for measuring the vital signs of patients affected by Covid-19, designed by the Ticino-based start-up and a certified Medical Device, stems from the adaptation of a pre-existing platform to new requirements that arose during the emergency through the use of more recent technology. Years after it was first designed, the Exprivia | Italtel eLifecare platform remains a highly valuable and innovative resource: whereas in 2017 it completely revolutionised the approach to home care, in 2020 it has been able to change its skin thanks to the original integrated management of its services, becoming an anti-Covid solution that is set to leave its mark in the healthcare sector of the future. Telemedicine is no longer just a technology concept but a genuine strategy because it exploits the necessary processes and system of relations to create treatment courses and connect patients with health workers virtually distributed among top-class healthcare institutions. Connections that are no longer just physical, but also digital.