COVID-19 has underscored the need for new tools and new resources for treating patients at every stage, from prevention of infection, early diagnosis and contact tracing to follow-up, home care and, if necessary, transitions from home to hospital and vice versa. Our current circumstances have accelerated an existing trend towards health care digitalisation and telemedicine, which is poised to make a quantum leap towards large-scale implementation, since the technology that makes it possible has been mature for some time and offers significant advantages.
COVID-19 has accelerated an existing trend towards health care digitalisation and telemedicine, which is poised to make a quantum leap towards large-scale implementation
Telemedicine tools provide key functionalities, including the capacity to model and monitor the clinical process and the ability to act as quickly and efficiently as possible at each stage of illness.
Moreover, the data collected make it possible to provide decision support tools that are better informed, operate in real time and allow a style of health management that is more firmly grounded in data rather than intuition. Moreover, on the prevention front, these data make it possible to apply artificial intelligence techniques that can enhance and expand the epidemiological models that inform public health actions.
On the prevention front, these data make it possible to apply artificial intelligence techniques that can enhance and expand the epidemiological models that inform public health actions
At the same time, telemedicine tools can assist incontact tracing, help to provide recommendations on best prevention practices, facilitate the recording of symptoms, and open up the possibility of enriching data-based screening tools in emergency departments and intensive care units. If videoconferencing and messaging services are used in combination with the monitoring of patients’ vital signs on the basis of physiological variables such as temperature and blood oxygen levels, non-severe cases can be prevented from going to the hospital.
Felip Miralles, director of eHealth at Eurecat
Once a patient has been diagnosed, follow-up can be performed via remote monitoring by means of questionnaires and the use of simple medical devices to measure key variables. Collaboration and communication tools that allow videoconferencing, text messaging and the coordination of actions between health professionals and patients can also be utilised.
At the Eurecat technology centre, we have been working for some time on various cutting-edge telemedicine solutions adapted to different types of health care services. One example is the eKenku remote patient monitoring platform, which the Sant Joan de Déu Health Park in Sant Boi de Llobregat implemented during lockdown to support its mental health home support programme. This technological solution has allowed a team of psychologists and social workers to monitor their patients’ health and social care more closely.
The remote patient monitoring platform eKenku has allowed a team of psychologists and social workers at the Sant Joan de Déu Health Park in Sant Boi de Llobregat to monitor their patients more closely
Thanks to its modular design, eKenku’s questionnaire and videoconferencing system can be quickly deployed in any context—from home hospitalisation to chronic care—in which a patient needs to have a private conversation with the health care centre via a secure channel.
Eurecat participates in various consortiums that develop telemedicine tools. One such project is Paprika, which aims to improve health outcomes and quality of life for patients slated to undergo surgical procedures. Paprika uses a technologically enabled and personalised training programme to help patients prepare for surgery, reduce complications and improve postoperative recovery, while also helping to reduce hospitalisation time and the costs associated with surgical interventions.
The aim of the Paprika project is to improve health outcomes and quality of life for patients slated to undergo surgical procedures
At the European level, we have also participated in the development of CONNECARE, a solution based on “P4 medicine”—participatory, personalised, predictive and preventive —with the aim of providing integrated and predictive health management in patients’ homes.
We also participate in Live Incite, a project that offers a digital solution to help patients quit smoking and drinking alcohol before undergoing planned knee and hip surgeries. This solution also helps patients improve their health habits before, during and after surgical interventions.
To delve further into this topic, the fifth edition of the annual XPatient Barcelona Congress, to be held virtually on 29 and 30 September, will explore new technological solutions and success stories about ways to improve the patient experience and highlight the lessons learned by patients and professionals alike during the COVID-19 health crisis.
XPatient Barcelona Congress – programme and registration