They pose a major threat to health worldwide. It’s respiratory diseases: among the most common asthma, BPCO, bronchitis, pneumonia, respiratory failure, pulmonary fibrosis And bronchiectasis. According to the WHO there are approximately 180,000 deaths associated with asthma worldwide each year, and nearly 150 million patients suffer from the disease. The treatment of respiratory diseases is essential to limit the most serious consequences. However, the health emergency has highlighted the problems of the National Health Service, especially with regard to local services and the management of chronic patients, largely affected by respiratory diseases. In addition, patients’ fear of contagion and the cancellation by hospitals of visits, treatments and monitoring activities have determined a serious problem of adherence to therapies.
“To address the complex situation, as an association we have tried to respond through concrete, informative and educational support activities. This has further made it necessary to bring the place of care back to the territory, guaranteeing the management of the disease at home through suitable tools for timely diagnosis and therapeutic orientation “. Simona Barbaglia, president of the association Breathe Together, in an interview published on the Aleati per la Salute website (www.alleatiperlasalute.it), the portal dedicated to medical-scientific information created by Novartis, underlines the importance of an advanced digitization project that aims to better manage patients suffering from respiratory diseases, made even more urgent due to the difficulties encountered during the pandemic.
The way to go, according to Barbaglia includes “the integration of services and assistance at home, with the need to identify new models of care that revolve around the needs of the patient. We need to strengthen Integrated Home Care (ADI), assigning a greater number of competent and specifically trained professionals to fill this role. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop and implement telemedicine services that could support the patient at home. “
On the one hand, the health emergency has given a strong impetus to the spread of telemedicine, as a fundamental means of ensuring continuity of care in safety. On the other hand, however, they emerged serious gaps in digitization, as regards, for example, the quality of the services offered and the lack of technical preparation in the use of digital tools by patients. In many cases, there was also a lack of equipment and adequate connectivity.
The digitization project was born precisely with the aim of filling these gaps and offering real help to adult patients with respiratory disease, who felt particularly vulnerable during the pandemic precisely because of the greater risk of contracting Covid-19. Telemedicine can become a very effective tool in this sense and therefore, Barbaglia points out, “the digital training course for patients with respiratory disease was planned with the aim of breaking down the environmental, cultural and economic barriers that exist today, so that all patients could be guaranteed a good level of care, minimizing the risk of contagion for patients, doctors and healthcare personnel, and thus also lightening the burden on the already tried and tested healthcare system “.
The Respiriamo Insieme association organizes various courses with these aims such as the project ‘Breathe me‘. “This is an information, training and educational path – highlights Barbaglia – conceived by the association in collaboration with the medical staff of the Careggi Hospital, carried out at the University in Florence”. Expected in online mode is instead Breathe Me-Digital: a conscious journey towards the correct management of asthma and chronic respiratory diseases. The digital training course for patients with respiratory pathology, which “was designed to help patients suffering from respiratory diseases who have little or no familiarity with digital devices to use these tools to access specialist and psychological assistance remotely, access digital services offered by public and private administrations” . Together with the learning of practical digital knowledge, accessible even to novice users, a relational and psychological support service is offered, to make patients more aware and prepared about the disease and its best possible management. Barbaglia’s intervention is available on: https://www.alleatiperlasalute.it/open-innovation/il-progetto-digitalizzazione-pazienti-con-patologia-respiratoria.