06.2012 - RENEWING HEALTH: first results
RENEWING HEALTH is a European project involving 9 countries that aims at valuating the use of Personal Health Systems (PHS) and telemedicine services for patients suffering from COPD, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. As far as the Veneto Region is concerned, the number of patients engaged in the telemonitoring will be 3,143. As of today 1,427 of them (45,4%) are formally enrolled in the programme.
The average age of the patients suffering from COPD and cardiovascular diseases enrolled in the study is 78. Most of them (88%) state not to be familiar with PCs, while 65% usually use mobile phones and devices. Those people, because of the chronic condition they cope with, have to move regularly to the hospital to have check-up, they undergo frequent hospitalizations and get to the first-aid for acute episodes. 73% of patients submit themselves to specialist examinations using their own means of transport, while 7% have to call an ambulance.
Thanks to the telemonitoring system, the vital parameters of these patients are daily noted down and sent to a centre, which valuates, selects and sorts the data to the specialist in charge of each pathology and patient. If these parameters fall below the minimum threshold or if the threshold value is exceeded an alarm system is activated and classified depending on its graveness. 8% of alerts are red for patients suffering from cardiac diseases, while they rise to 13% for patients afflicted with BPCO.
The alarm activation gives rise to three kinds of action: a sudden change in the treatment, a specialist examination, or, in the most serious cases, the call of an emergency phone number (118 in Italy).
To date, 4 alarms per month have been registered on the average for patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases and 0,5 for the ones afflicted with BPCO.
The aim of the RENEWING HEALTH study is to verify if the telemontoring system reduces accesses to first aid hospital services, doctor's offices, specialist examinations and hospitalizations. Besides, since these patients can be often anxious and depressed, the system could guarantee them, in general, an improved quality of life.
If the RH project confirmed the results got by a study carried out by NHS Scotland involving over 6,000 patients, the telemonitoring system would guarantee 8% reduction of the costs associated with the care of chronic patients. This would mean that, thanks to the system introduced, 195 millions Euros per year could be saved in the Veneto Region, thus considering that a patient suffering from BPCO costs 7,000 Euros per year to the health system and one afflicted with cardiovascular diseases about 12,000.