Management of chronic diseases in a progressively aging population is a major issue in western industrialized countries and telehealth is one way to ensure the continuity of care in chronic illness. We describe here our personal experience in a telehealth and telecare centre in Italy. Between January 2000 and December 2015, 1635 elderly patients (71% male) with one or more comorbidities have undergone a telehealth program tailored to their specific disease: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/chronic respiratory insufficiency; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/neuromuscular diseases; chronic heart failure (CHF); post-stroke; and post-cardiac surgery patients discharged from hospital after an acute event. COPD and CHF represent the majority of patients treated (accounting for 80%). Interventions performed by the nurse tutor account for 39-82% of all activities in the five different programs. Specialist second opinion represents 12-27% of the health staff activities. Previously reported results show a reduction of the re-hospitalization rate and costs, and increase in quality of life and patient satisfaction with the service. A multidisciplinary telehealth and telecare integrated approach can provide efficient management for the growing number of complex patients.
- Journal Article