Coupled with a telelaboratory service that allows patient test samples to be analysed remotely, the internet-based HEALTH OPTIMUM solutions are having a profound impact on healthcare in the regions where they were tested and where they are continuing to be used. Doctors are saving time, public healthcare systems are saving money, and patients are receiving better coordinated and better quality care.
"At first, patients were surprised when they went to their local doctor's office and I was able to talk to them and see them over a computer, but surprise turned to satisfaction when they realised they wouldn't have to come to the hospital," says Dr Marco. "Barbastro, [where he works], is the only hospital for a widely distributed population. Many people live up to a hundred kilometres away, the winters are hard and the roads can be bad."
But saving patients the inconvenience of travelling to hospital for routine consultations, when physical check ups with a specialist are unnecessary, is not the only advantage. Because their general practitioner is present during the videoconference, they receive better coordinated care, with the GP and the specialist able to jointly study patient data, including scans and samples, over the telecounselling service.
"The benefits to all actors in the healthcare sector are enormous," notes Claudio Dario, the HEALTH OPTIMUM project coordinator at the Treviso Local Health Authority in the Veneto region of Italy.
In trials in Veneto, the telecounselling service has been used to link primary healthcare facilities to hospital neurology departments, allowing patients with head injuries to be accurately di
Contact: Tara Morris