Rare diseases, Janssen award for best innovative project to the ’empPAtHy’ group

The ’empPAtHy’ group of the Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome and of Aicca-Association of adult congenital heart disease patients goes the prize for having proposed the best project to ‘Hack for Pah’, the first hackathon aimed at improving the path of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, promoted by Janssen Italia in collaboration with Telos Management Consulting.

The group proposed the creation of a Personalized app for the patient, with sections relating to your information including medical tests and medications; a pocket card with patient information, containing login credentials for their travel App and management of any emergencies; an App for treating physicians with easily available and transferable information and infographics. The jury evaluated the projects according to three criteria: the degree of innovation, the value for the patient and the simplicity and sustainability.

Three teams of doctors and patient associations competed in the 3-day marathon, with the support of experts in the reorganization of healthcare processes and pathways who came together in this pilot project that started in Lazio with the aim of defining a path for the patient with pulmonary arterial hypertension able to reduce the time for a correct diagnosis and management, both for idiopathic forms and if secondary expression of diseases such as scleroderma or congenital heart disease.

The 3 working tables were composed of medical figures who take charge of the management of the patient with pulmonary arterial hypertension, such as general practitioners, cardiologists, radiologists, pulmonologists, rheumatologists, but also local pharmacists and representatives of patient associations. The table for the idiopathic form of pulmonary arterial hypertension was headed by the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome and by Amip-Association for pulmonary hypertension patients; the table for scleroderma with complications of pulmonary arterial hypertension was led by specialists from the Sant’Andrea University Hospital in Rome with Gils-Italian Group for the fight against scleroderma; the table dedicated to congenital heart disease with complications of pulmonary arterial hypertension was made up of specialists from the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome with Aicca.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension – remember a note – is ua rare disease characterized by increased blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation, which leads to a progressive overworking of the right ventricle of the heart and can culminate in heart failure and premature death in the absence of adequate treatment. It affects about 60 out of a million people, of all age groups, with an almost double predominance of cases in women. Data from international registries indicate on average a ratio of 1.9 women affected for each man e it is estimated that, in Italy, there are about 3 thousand patients. The lack of specific symptoms, especially dyspnea, causes a diagnostic underestimation with an average period to reach the diagnosis of about 2 years.

“We at Janssen – he declares Loretta Mameli, Patient Advocacy Lead of Janssen Italy – we are always at the forefront to respond with our research and our services to the care needs of rare patients and to sensitize the public opinion to know and recognize more pathologies such as pulmonary arterial hypertension. Advances in the treatment of Pah to date have brought many benefits to clinicians and patients, but much work remains to be done. Our goal is to transforming Pah into an increasingly manageable long-term condition, finding as soon as possible a cure that can be definitive. At the same time, we dialogue and work with all actors in the system to speed up diagnosis and improve disease management. We are confident that a project like Hack for Pah will bring very positive results for all patients with Pah. “

“This initiative has brought together the different souls of health professionals and institutions to focus on possible solutions – he underlines Dario Vizza, director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Center at the Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrological, Anesthesiology and Geriatric Sciences of the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome – The exchange of experience between different realities can help to achieve an early diagnosis thanks to the construction and experimentation of more organized and standardized treatment paths at an interdisciplinary level, with the involvement of professionals who intervene in the various stages of the path. I hope that this important pilot project can have a future in many other regions and find more and more innovative solutions at the service of doctors, patients and caregivers “.

“The real problem with pulmonary arterial hypertension is that the disease is not only rare, but also very little known, both by doctors and by the general population – highlights Laura Gagliardini, president of Amip – This leads on the one hand to difficulties and delays in diagnosis and on the other hand to the fact that patients often turn to the doctor when the disease is already in an advanced stage. There are also relatively few medical centers with the specific skills and clinical experience required. This project was born to help spread information about the disease and to find the best path for an early diagnosis “.

“The hackathon – he says Roberto Badagliacca, cardiologist and researcher at La Sapienza University in Rome – it was a very positive experience that demonstrates how exchanging different ideas, experiences and methodologies in real time by the various actors involved in the management and treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension leads to excellent results. Defining a path for the patient, both with an idiopathic form and secondary expression of diseases such as scleroderma or congenital heart disease, is essential in order to reduce the average period to reach the diagnosis, which for the idiopathic form is currently about 2 years, and therefore to be able to initiate early treatment and improve the care experience“.

“We must always challenge ourselves to improve – he concludes Paolo Ciani, vice president of the Health Commission and president of the Covid Commission, Lazio Regional Council – Management of patients with rare diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension needs to be improved to make it effective and efficient. With the pandemic, many aspects of health and social life have been disrupted and also the models of taking care of patients who, it must be remembered, are first and foremost people. It is very important to involve patient associations because they experience the problems directly and this hackathon was a very instructive example of co-planning in the health sector “.


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