The Mediterranean Institute for Transplantation and High Specialisation Therapies (ISMETT, in Italian) has recently launched a tele-health monitoring project for 30 Sicilian liver transplant patients during the post-transplant follow-up period.
The new system will allow transplant patients to leave the hospital early and recover at home thanks to a telehealth monitoring system, which comes with an integrated camera, microphone and speakers for interactive video-conferences. Patients can now be monitored and supported from their homes, with the possibility of collecting biometric data, managing their treatment and offering face to face support via video conferencing.
"This telehealth monitoring system is an important solution, not only for early discharge from hospital, but also for better day-to-day monitoring of transplant patients, that can be carried out more frequently without patients going to the hospital for routine check-ups," says Giovanni Vizzini, Head of ISMETT's Department of Medicine. "This is particularly true in the first three months after a transplant, an extremely delicate moment from a clinical point of view, when patients need to be constantly connected with their healthcare team", he adds.
The telehealth monitoring system, which is distributed in Italy by a European provider of home care services, allows for a direct and visual contact between patients and physicians through a reliable system of video conferencing. The system thus creates similar conditions to those that exist during a standard hospital medical examination, with the advantage that the patient does not need to leave his home, taking the exam in all comfort. Through a special kit, the device allows for the periodic assessment of vital parameters (like blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen concentration) and the automatic entering of the results into the system.
"Telehealth monitoring is not only useful to reduce healthcare costs," continues Vizzini. "The system actually enables a two-way dialogue between patients and the healthcare staff (medical practitioners, transplant coordinators, therapists and psychologists), making patients feel better monitored and allowing them to ask for immediate support. This pilot study was funded as part of a project called Piano Sanitario Nazionale 2010 (Assistenza Domiciliare) [National Health Plan - Home Assistance], sponsored by the Hospital Planning Service of the Region of Sicily's Department of Health. Our preliminary results are very encouraging. As a whole, the study will involve 100 liver transplant patients and we hope that in the near future we'll be able to offer this service to lung transplant patients and VAD [Ventricular Assist Devices] patients", he concludes.