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Telemedicine and multichronic comorbidities in the days of COVID-19: Preliminary results from Calabria Project

1 Italian Society of Digital Health and Telemedicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
2 Italian Society of Digital Health and Telemedicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy; University of Florence, Florence, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Maria Teresa Savo,
University of Florence, Florence
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/VIT-1

CONTEXT: The COVID-19 pandemic is probably the most challenging health crisis of the modern era as international health systems were not prepared to fight a virus whose capacity of spread is still being debated. The following are the two main challenges: the management of patients with acute infection of SARS-CoV-2, which needs more attention to have results in brief time, and the prevention of resultant neglect of patients who are not infected but need constant care for their chronic diseases. AIMS: To prevent the deaths from the "indirect effect" of the virus, the main aim was, with the help of telemedicine, to follow-up patients with high risk of poor outcome and to develop a protective system to reduce emergency department and hospitalizations access. The secondary aim was to develop an efficient telehealth model to be applied also after the COVID-19 pandemic. SETTINGS AND DESIGN: The study was voluntary and observational on patients enrolled between March and May 2020, during the first wave of the Italian pandemic. The project involved primary care and specialist physicians, nurses, informatics, and administrative services in the complex unity of primary care in Catanzaro Lido, Calabria Region. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygenation, and glycemia were recorded using sphygmomanometer, oximeter, and glucometer and were communicated with a smartphone or a Bluetooth directly to a control room. The alerts were stratified according to the common emergency code: green for low risk, yellow for intermediate risk, red for high risk, and critic red for very high risk. RESULTS: Regarding patients with glycemic alerts, totally, 2135 were alert, 25% of them were at high risk, but only in 1 single case (0.04%), the intervention of 118 was necessary. The rest was resolved by telemedicine system with the help, when necessary, of first-level medical intervention. In 6.1% of cases, a specialist advice was required. Moreover, cardiovascular alerts were all resolved by the telemedicine system. CONCLUSIONS: The results obtained are preliminary but satisfying, a clear sign of how telemedicine could improve the management of disease chronicity but also of infectious disease.

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