In this year and a half of pandemic, digital healthcare has taken the lion’s share. This is confirmed by the preview of the latest research produced by the Digital Innovation in Healthcare Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, in collaboration with Doxapharma on a sample of 1,003 Italians representative of the population. The complete search Digital health beyond the emergency: more connected to restart it will be presented on 26 May next at the conference promoted by the School of Management of the Politecnico (10 am, in streaming upon free registration on www. Osservatori.net). Compared to the data presented last year, which photograph only the debut of Sars-Cov-2, the most widely used digital service is confirmed as that of online collections of clinical documents: the share of those who have used this method is equal to 37% of the interviewees who have withdrawn reports. This is followed by online booking of visits and exams (26%) and online payment (17%). The greatest growth is observed precisely in the online withdrawal of reports (+ 8% compared to the data recorded at the beginning of 2020), also linked to the fact that in the last year many Italians have downloaded the reports of swabs or serological tests from the web portals of healthcare companies or regions. Looking at the future, over 70% of Italians interested in using these digital services, confirming how this last year of emergency has further increased attention towards this type of applications he explains Chiara Sgarbossa, director of the Observatory.
The reservation of the Covid vaccine
As for the booking of the Covid vaccine, the preferred channel was the digital one: 45% of those who have made a reservation chose it (for I know for others). The share falls to 29% among the over 65s, who instead preferred the telephone or go in person. Who used the online channel positively evaluates both the speed of booking (79% of citizens gave a grade above 7, on a scale of 1 to 10) is the speed of receiving feedback (78%). We have therefore reached the decisive turning point in the relationship between citizens digital health? Some barriers that previously existed have been eased – says Chiara Sgarbossa -. In this historical phase many more Italians have equipped themselves, also through caregivers, relatives and friends, in using the online channel because it was one of the safest and fastest ways to access services. The online collection of swab or test reports and the online booking of vaccines have made citizens understand how useful web services are. I continue to argue that it is it is necessary to maintain the right mix between digital and physical access channels, that can be used by citizens according to their needs and skills adds.
What the future holds
In order to restart, it is necessary that health authorities and regions make available digital services designed with user needs in mind and therefore simple to use and easily accessible, and possibly included among the services of the electronic health record, so as to promote its use, he adds. As the experts of the Politecnico Observatory point out, however, iThe digitalization process of the health ecosystem is proceeding at different speeds and often fragmented and inhomogeneous. It is therefore necessary to identify the actions to be implemented, in terms of resources to invest, governance models, skills of health professionals and citizens / patients necessary to implement the true transformation towards a Connected Care model. An objective, that of the digitization of the National Health Service, indicated as one of the pillars of National recovery and resilience plan after Covid. In particular, in the chapter dedicated to home care, they are provided investments of one billion euros in telemedicine services. Upon completion and dissemination of the Electronic health record instead, 1.38 billion euros are allocated (of which 0.57 billion relating to the project already in place for the creation of the electronic health card system).
Electronic health record, the great unfinished
The first round table of the conference on May 26 will be discussed precisely about the health record and health data. The Dossier is one of the great unfinished (perhaps the largest) of digital healthcare in Italy. Established with the Growth 2.0 Law Decree in 2012, in fact it never took off. The relaunch decree has potentially given a big boost to the promotion of the use of the electronic health record by citizens, eliminating the need for consent for activation and in fact to date, over 52 million files have been activated. However, digital patient reports are not yet present in many regional files and only a portion of healthcare companies feeds the ESF, clarifies the director of the Observatory. So many obstacles to overcome. First among all, the 21 different health systems, one for each region, which have given rise to as many ESF. With negative consequences on the diffusion, homogeneity and accessibility of this tool by the patients and the health workers themselves. For some time, a decisive intervention on the issue has been requested. Recently Sit (Italian Telemedicine Society, Anorc (National association of operators and managers of digital content custody), Cnr-Irpps (National Research Council – Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy) e Siaarti (Italian Society of Anesthesia Analgesia Resuscitation and Intensive Care) have launched an appeal for the necessary and urgent reform of the electronic health record.
In the search for information, fear of fake news
In the Covid-19 book. The catastrophe (Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore) Richard Horton, editor of the scientific journal The Lancet, writes: This weak and ineffective international community was not even ready for a second epidemic, the one that the WHO (World Health Organization, ed.) Has defined “Infodemic”. The infodemic is an excess of information, real or not, which in this case has made it difficult to provide a reliable and adequate response to the epidemic. When faced with a flood of data and information, who should you believe? The survey carried out by the Digital Innovation in Healthcare Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with Doxapharma also tried to probe this terrain, asking the sample of interviewees through which channels they have obtained information during this last year. Well, with regard to vaccines and the vaccination campaign, in the first place we find the TV programs dedicated to the topic (47%), followed by the family doctor (43%) and by institutional web pages (37%). The latter were consulted mainly by people in the 25-34 age group (63%), while the percentage is significantly reduced for those over 65 (10%), who have mainly relied on the family doctor (49%). Overall, digital channels were used by 43% of the interviewees, even if social networks were not consulted, probably because people know they often find unreliable information – comments Chiara Sgarbossa, director of the Observatory -. Among those who have not used digital channels, the motivation for this choice in most cases is not to feel capable (35%, which reaches 63% for over 65s) or to consider traditional channels easier to use (27 %). As already highlighted in the previous edition of the Report, therefore, the situation of uncertainty and the search for points of reference has pushed Italians to rely on the official channels on which they placed greater trust. The situation photographed by the Observatory about a year ago at the onset of the Sars-Cov-2 infection was in fact the following: 65% of the sample declared that they had confidence in the information provided by the news (with an evaluation from 7 to 10) and 52% of those given by TV broadcasts dedicated to the topic. On the other hand, social pages or blogs were decidedly unreliable (unreliable according to 72% of the sample). The spread of fake news or hoaxes through these channels had led to an abandonment of these in favor of more institutional and traditional channels, where it was possible to listen to the opinion and discussion between experts. The new edition of the Report recorded the tendency to obtain information also on the more general issues in the health field.
Digital channels to learn more about health and disease
Here, more than half of the people who searched for information used the Internet. The most sought-after information is that on correct lifestyles (73%). But the digital channels were explored to find out more about other topics too: health problems / diseases (69%), drugs and therapies (65%) and – a trend to report with some concern – to try to formulate a diagnosis on the basis of their symptoms (62%). The use of digital channels is increasing among 35-44 year olds and among graduates who in over 80% of cases search online for health information. The percentage of those who use the web, on the other hand, is considerably reduced in the over 65 population who in most cases relies on traditional channels, adds Chiara Sgarbossa. What is the propensity to use digital channels in the future declared by the sample of interviewees? To search for information on healthy lifestyles. the percentage of interested parties reaches 79%, while 72% as regards the search for information on drugs or health problems
May 21, 2021 (change May 22, 2021 | 08:15)
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