Telemedicine: BI-REX for Life Science and the UPMC Project

Healthcare 4.0 – Virtual hospitals and a network of Telemedicine services for proximity medicine: UPMC's project kicks off as part of BI-REX for Life Science, Italy's first healthcare 4.0 supply chain

Overcoming the fragmentation of telemedicine services for greater territorial homogeneity with the introduction of a new model of post-COVID-19 digital home care, focused on territories and proximity social and health care networks. This is the ambitious goal of the Pilot Project conceived and coordinated by UPMC – a non-profit academic health group, affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh – as part of BI-REX for Life Science, the Bologna-based polycentric hub created at the instigation of the Biomedical supply chain promoted by UPMC as a founding member of the BI-REX Consortium, and which aims to connect the needs of the healthcare world to the results of scientific research and progress. of the biomedical and tech industry by aggregating the academic world, research institutions and private companies.

Innovative solutions for increasingly accessible, safe and technological proximity healthcare: from Big Data to robotics, from Artificial Intelligence to the Internet of Things, the initiative includes three pilot projects and 46 activities in seven areas of intervention, identified to contribute to the digital transition of the National Health System, in line with the priorities of the Next Generation Plan Italy 2021.

In particular, the project led by UPMC involves the introduction of an innovative digital home care model that will be implemented over the next 36 months through collaboration with hospitals in Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Tuscany and Sicily. The project will overcome the existing imbalances in accessibility to the health care system, also through the introduction of integrated services focused on the needs of the person and the community and on innovative hospital-home paths for prevention and treatment, to support local social and health care networks and to ensure continuity of care even outside the hospital structure.

“With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent critical issues encountered in many healthcare facilities, there has become an urgent need to introduce new models to improve efficiency, flexibility and access to health services,” said Prof. Giovanni Vizzini, Medical and Scientific Director of UPMC Italy. Our proposal introduces a new paradigm of increasingly immediate, accessible and personalized health care, which goes beyond the current emergency: it is potentially applicable to many other areas of medicine, from the treatment of chronic diseases and psychotherapy, to the management of the drug supply chain. The NHS and Italian citizens will benefit from a new organizational model that, thanks to technology, protects vulnerable patients, reduces costs, collects useful data for increasingly accurate care and provides treatments to patients in the tranquility of their homes”.

A real “Digital Medical Service” fully integrated with all clinical services provided by health and social care organizations and based on an advanced technological platform: telemedicine and connected care tools and services to support accessibility to care for frail and elderly patients in nursing homes and nursing homes. The model will enable healthcare providers to provide effective and secure remote care and monitor patients to ensure access to care outside the hospital. In this perspective, the project is closely connected with the network of clinics and primary care and with the future “Community Houses”.

The test bed of the project will be the current SARS-CoV-2 emergency. In this context, the new organizational model will be tested in terms of its ability to contribute to the prevention, early diagnosis, management and monitoring of patients with frailty, in particular the elderly residing in care institutions and health residences or nursing homes, the population most affected by the pandemic in Italy and beyond. The main objective of the project is to provide a new organizational model that increases continuous access to care for elderly patients in the global pandemic environment and reduces their need for hospitalization, thus reducing the risk of contracting the virus in high-risk healthcare facilities and emergency rooms.

The test will be performed through a pilot, in which some use cases will be addressed, including tele-visits between doctor and people in asymptomatic/paucisymptomatic self-isolation and non-COVID-19 patients with chronic diseases; tele-ICU between doctors from different clinical facilities; teleconsultations for doctors in nursing homes of the National Health System; monitoring of patients admitted from control rooms.

UPMC, a partner of the European Telemedicine Conference (ETC), has a proven track record of managing telemedicine programs and services. In Italy, thanks to the support of the United States Government, it is currently engaged in the design and development of a telemedicine platform for the most vulnerable population groups.