Posted: 2021-09-10 19:00:00
Background: Due to the many restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 emergency, the normal clinical activities have been stopped abruptly in view of limiting the circulation of the virus. The extraordinary containment measures have had a dramatic impact on the undertaking and follow-up of ophthalmic outpatients. Objective: In order to guarantee proper monitoring and routine care, the Pediatric Ophthalmology equipe of Rovereto Hospital (North-East of Italy) supported by the Competence Center on Digital Health TrentinoSalute4.0, designed and implemented a digital platform, TreC Oculistica, enabling teleophthalmology. We report our innovative-albeit restricted-experience aiming at testing and maximizing the efficacy of remote ophthalmic and orthoptic visits. Methods: A multidisciplinary team created the TreC Oculistica platform and defined a teleophthalmology protocol. The system consists of a clinician web interface and a patient mobile application. Clinicians can prescribe outpatients with the App and some preliminary measurements to be self-collected before the televisit. The App conveys the clinician's requests (i.e. measurements) and eases the share of the collected information in a secure digital environment, promoting a new health care workflow. Results: Four clinicians took part in the testing phase (2 ophthalmologists and 2 orthoptists) and recruited 37 patients (mostly pediatric) in 3 months. Thanks to a continuous feedback between the testing and the technical implementation, it has been possible to identify pros and cons of the implemented functionalities, considering possible improvements. Digital solutions such as TreC Oculistica advance the digitalization of the Italian health care system, promoting a structured and effective reorganization of the workload supported by digital systems. Conclusions: The study tested an innovative digital solution in the teleophthalmology context and represented the first experience within the Italian healthcare system. This solution opens up new possibilities and scenarios that can be effective not only during the pandemic, but also in the traditional management of public health services.
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