Objectives of the service
Primary prevention promoting the adoption of a healthy lifestyle is becoming an integral part of a number of national healthcare systems programmes. The presence of a comprehensive methodology for disease prevention, surveillance of behavioural risk factors and lifestyle adoption plays an important role in facilitating the implementation of a healthcare prevention programme.
Telemedicine, due to its ability to gather, transfer, share and process user’s data will very likely become a fundamental enabler for the implementation of such a methodology. The “universality” of the proposed services becomes an imperative and a driver for the Project: all people shall have the same opportunity to access services that promote the diseases prevention and healthy life style.
The integration of the satellite network with other types of networks (XDSL, Wifi, GPRS, etc.) as redistribution systems can provide a competitive solution in specific instances. The possibility to exploit the paradigm one terminal with satellite communications – many users for all the types of terminals in the ASSISTED and SELF-CARE scenarios, helps to optimize the usage of communication resources and lower the operating expenses for terminals and therefore for users.
The TESHEALTH project is dedicated to developing, implementing, qualifying and validating a telemedicine system promoting the use of satellite communications aimed at reducing the impacts of chronic diseases, improving life styles and empowering citizens to adopt a healthier behaviour. The ambitious target can be broken down into a series of specific objectives:
- Increase the citizen’s control on a safe and healthy behaviour, providing instruments and services for self-care and a permanent and pervasive link between the individual and the physician environment;
- Provide the exchange of heterogeneous health data concerning the health of the citizen among different healthcare providers such as hospitals, pharmacies, clinical labs, etc.;
- Automate where possible the complex healthcare workflow, drastically reducing response times, manual intervention and mistakes (such as non compliance to clinical protocols);
- Deploy an interconnected system using a integrated, heterogeneous telecom network (e.g. terrestrial and satellite) capable of providing an adequate solution for a connected healthcare prevention programme, regardless of the geographical location of the citizen, for a universal service in the support of disease prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion;
- Facilitate the collaboration among healthcare actors and the citizen whenever and wherever required;
- Validate the technical and operational capabilities of the system with end users and a cooperation with organizations involved in healthcare prevention programmes.
The project completed its activities at the end of March 2012.
For the pilot Operations purposes, the satellite ASTRA2Connect terminals (for Assisted and Self-Care Services), have been installed. The pilot of the Assisted service tested the Satellite ICT services in two real scenarios: Data Recollection for Clinical Trials to monitor in realtime the quality of the acquired clinical data during Echo Cardiographic exams collected for clinical studies purposes, and Remote Medical Recording to provide effective support to remote medical recordings and second opinion.
The pilot evidenced that the use of the satellite access technology for the provision of Assisted services, which involves video-conference sessions and data transmissions between two specialists for clinical studies and tele-consultation purposes, is limited by the required uplink bandwidth. In fact, a positive evaluation of these services, requires about 360kbps of available uplink bandwidth, which is not guaranteed by a commercial satellite service profile (as the one adopted for the ASTRA2Connect satellite access). The satellite providers should offer different plans that include real broadband symmetrical connectivity (from 2 Mbps up to 10 Mbps).
The pilot of the Self-Care scenario started in October 2011 and is still running at the time of writing of this report (May 2011). For the validation of the services, data collected at the Health Points installed into two Pharmacies from November 2011 to March 2012 were utilised, together with the end users entries in the Personal Health Record developed in the frame of the project, called VIVA.
As results of the pilot stage, 1468 tests were performed, 136 users were registered into the system, 2335 measurements were recorded, 75 reports were sent via sms and 118 reports via email. The results obtained from the evaluation of the User Experience through the questionnaires submission, were quite good: 50% of people considered use of the health point easy enough and 48% very easy; 30% completed the whole program in 10 minutes and 36% in less than 10 minutes; 32% considered the Health Point services useful and 36% considered them very useful for Health; 54% of people made single measures (Blood pressure, weight), and 44% completed the health program. VIVA utilization highlighted the importance of this type of media for the continuous long term support for maintenance of life style changes and to control multiple risk factors. VIVA is currently used by AVIS Milano in the frame of a prevention program for its members, and by a Multinational manufacturer for its employees.