Molinette Hospital - Telecom Italia launches distance monitoring service via mobile phone

02/01/2012 - 03:00 PM

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The innovative Nuvola It Home Doctor system developed by Telecom Italia allows chronic patients who are being treated at the Molinette Hospital in Turin to monitor their physiological parameters via mobile phone from their own homes, thus improving their quality of life and optimising healthcare costs.

The innovative Nuvola It Home Doctor distance monitoring system developed by Telecom Italia will come into service at the San Giovanni Battista University Hospital of Turin (Molinette Hospital). The system allows chronic patients to monitor their physiological parameters via mobile phone, delivering benefits in terms of improved patient quality of life and optimised healthcare costs. Following a joint trial, the service is now available to chronic patients under treatment in the Molinette Hospital Geriatric Unit (run by Professor Giancarlo Isaia) and the Molinette Home Hospital Unit (run by Doctor Nicoletta Aimonino Ricauda) and will be gradually rolled out to the cardiology, pneumology, neurology, haematology units and some areas of internal medicine. The Region of Piedmont and the AReSS are proposing to extend the distance monitoring service to cover large sections of the population as part of a policy to bring the health service closer to the community. The solution is expected to be taken up by other hospitals in the Region to monitor as many as 5000 patients from their own homes.

The innovative Nuvola It Home Doctor service allows discharged patients, selected and trained in the use of modern but simple technologies, to monitor certain biological parameters at home using traditional electro medical devices and send them via a dedicated mobile phone provided by the hospital to the Telecom Italia data centre. The metrics are sent to the platform automatically by the phone over the mobile GPRS/EDGE/UMTS network. The solution can also operate on ADSL, Wi-Fi and satellite networks, allowing the service to be used wherever a data connection is available. The doctors access the platform via the web to monitor the data and adjust their treatment.

Distance monitoring is particularly suited to patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, bronchitis and heart conditions and patients in general who need to keep certain biological metrics constantly under control, e.g. bodyweight, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, heart rate, glycaemia, blood oxygen saturation, spirometry, ECG tests and prothrombin time expressed as an INR (International Normalized Ratio).

Nuvola It Home Doctor, part of Telecom Italia's Italian cloud offering, relies on advanced cloud computing technologies and is delivered in a scalable and flexible form via the company's data centres. Healthcare structures pay a "per user" fee for the service and do not require their own dedicated IT infrastructure. The solution was awarded the Confindustria National Prize for Innovation in 2010 by the Italian Presidente della Repubblica. The system - developed entirely by Telecom Italia Lab, the group's R&D centre in Turin - leverages a technology platform and a software that is configured on the patient's and dedicated nursing staff's mobile phone (or PC or tablet). In accordance with their doctor's treatment plan, patients receive reminders to take measurements on their phone. They take them using portable devices equipped with Bluetooth interfaces and automatically transmit the results to the platform over the mobile phone network. Clinicians login to the platform from networked personal computers, control how treatment is going remotely, and at any moment take corrective action giving immediate communication to the patient. They can also set personal thresholds with SMS or web alerts when these are breached, consult a specialist for online reports on ECG or blood oxygen levels, sign the reports digitally and make them available to the platform over the web. Similarly, during home visits, nursing personnel can send clinical information to the ward doctor from the patient's home, and instantly receive medical records and instructions, speeding up both diagnosis and treatment.

The distance monitoring service can be used in different ways depending on the type of patient (e.g.: follow-up of patients suffering a flare-up of the illness after discharge from hospital; monitoring of respiratory levels in patients with a neurological condition; home INR measurements for patients with blood coagulation problems under treatment at the oral anticoagulant centre; monitoring of possible collateral effects - bradycardia, electrocardiographic variations - of drugs for patients at the Alzheimer Evaluation Unit; monitoring of Home Hospital patients, etc.).

The distance monitoring service is designed with a number of goals in mind:

  • improve patients' quality of life by controlling their condition at home, avoiding visits to the surgery or hospital;
  • provide doctors with the information they need to keep the situation under control using real time measurements by the patient, without them having to make a special visit;
  • support hospital and home health services using biomedical technologies to facilitate patient care and contacts with the most appropriate practitioner (GP and/or specialist, nurse, home nurse);
  • help reduce costs: a regularly monitored patient spends less time in hospital and can benefit from tailored pharmacological treatment. Both aspects, besides improving the quality of life and health of the patient, mean lower costs for the healthcare structure, including fewer hospital admissions.

Through this initiative Telecom Italia confirms its commitment to the diffusion of innovative cloud-based technological solutions to benefit government, business and the public, making a significant contribution to the country's development.

Turin, 1 February 2012