The perfect amalgamation of innovation and tradition: this is the secret of telemedicine in Italy: a promising intuition that has rapidly acquired concreteness, now becoming an indispensable reality. Technological innovation has allowed us to exponentially increase our possibilities, going on to expand the horizons of our imagination; however, all this is not to be read in contrast to the past and traditions, far from it.
The technical upgrade has served the function of an amplifier: a device that can channel and enhance our prior knowledge and skills.
Today, more than ever before, it has become apparent how necessary, as well as fundamentally important, synergistic work between the NHS and technological innovation is.
However, this will have to be a first step and not an end point because if we make the mistake of shelving all these improvements and implementations, to which we have also been diverted by the recent health crisis due to COVID-19 (read more in our article Global pandemic: what are the critical issues raised?), we would risk missing a more unique than rare opportunity.
The hope is that this was a first step aimed at overcoming this endemic distrust of digital health care.
Telemedicine yesterday: a leap into the past
All of us have become familiar with the concept of home care, a topic that has now become particularly hot as a result of the recent health care crisis, a veritable tsunami capable of disrupting the certainties of our society.
The first shoots of the home care project are spread as far back as the mid-1900s; from there we have been routed on a path of steady growth capable of keeping pace with the evolution of technological innovation.
When we hear about telemedicine invariably our thoughts run to images and concepts that are inextricably linked with an imagined future (and in some cases even futuristic).
It becomes difficult, therefore, not to betray a glimmer of astonishment upon learning that its first shoots had already been present since the early 1950s in the United States.
As is often the case, we find ourselves witnessing a scenario that is foreshadowed to be, day after day, a pillar of a now near future, only to realize that the foundations of this project were already there, waiting for the technological push to align with an idea that, in the mid-20th century, might have been considered visionary.
Dating back to the 1950s were the first experiments in remote consultation, a tool that later proved to be of crucial importance during the space race: by the 1960s, astronauts’ health conditions were being monitored remotely, providing new experimental outlets for the telemedicine project1.
The promises that technological advancement holds
The potential promised by a successful application of telemedicine in Italy jumps out at once:
- Fewer visits to hospitals and outpatient clinics and, consequently, the ability to care for traditional patients in optimal conditions.
- A more efficient medical presidium in the territory, going to bring a more viable system of rationalization of resources.
- The ability to easily and dynamically monitor chronic patients (people who need to relate to their doctor on a regular basis in Italy are about 40 percent of the population).
- Thus, the advantage of this home care for doctors who offer mental or nutritional support, professional categories toward which the opportunity for telecommuting may be foreshadowed, is also apparent.
Telemedicine in Italy: a fundamental strategic element
The constant increase in demographic trends and the consequent need to change and update patient needs, with a view to better surveillance and health care, make digital medicine the right tool to allocate the supply of our health care system more efficiently.
All of this thus allows home care to be labeled as a fundamental strategic element.
In light of this, it therefore becomes impossible to ignore all the advantages arising from the multiple employment outlets that a serious use of telemedicine would have in Italy, a country that has always been oriented toward enhancing its traditionally dense past.
- Telemedicine: a tool for technological and cultural innovation. a.y. 2012/2013 | Filippo Menabue.
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