The scientific article on the TreCovid19 app was published in the journal “JMIR Formative Research” (JFR)
The paper describes the evolution of the project, a result of the TrentinoSalute4.0 teamwork, which led to the development and deployment of the application in the first months of the 2020 pandemic.
The Journal of Medical Internet Research (of which the JFR – Formative Research section collects the process evaluations, the first results and the feasibility/pilot studies of digital and non-digital interventions) was founded in 1999 and is an international scientific journals dedicated to eHealth.
Lorenzo Gios, project manager of TrentinoSalute4.0, coordinated the drafting of the article entitled “Use of eHealth Platforms and Apps to Support Monitoring and Management of Home-Quarantined Patients With COVID-19 in the Province of Trento, Italy“. The TreCovid19 app described in the study was launched in the Google and Apple stores in March 2020: created in a very short time thanks to the critical support of the dedicated teams from APSS, FBK and PAT, it aimed to collect the official information on the Covid-19 emergency in Trentino. The app also made it possible to work alongside healthcare professionals and citizens to monitor the symptoms of the disease on a small number of patients.
“Among the strengths of the app” – said Lorenzo Gios – “there was certainly the design-to-deliver approach, a methodology that starts from analysis and design and reaches the actual implementation of the project on the basis of precise criteria and steps. This makes it possible to find a solution that can immediately be made available to healthcare providers. The effort by everyone, APSS operators, FBK technicians and PAT colleagues, was significant. We were able to develop and provide an eHealth tool to assist healthcare professionals in dealing with home-quarantined COVID-19 patients, building the App very rapidly and moreover in the period of a sudden serious epidemic”.
The scientific paper starts from the historical context: Italy was the first among Western countries to extensively experience the COVID-19 epidemic during the so-called first wave. The appropriate management of an increasing number of people in home quarantine has been a significant challenge for authorities and healthcare professionals, especially when considering the importance of remote surveillance to detect signs of disease progression and, consequently, arrange priority access to hospitals and intensive care units.
TTreCovid19 was built on the basis of an existing eHealth platform, already used by the Trento Province Healthcare System to provide home care, and was integrated with functionalities that enabled a secure collection and connection of demographic and clinical information relating to patients, and the provision of two-way communication between a multidisciplinary healthcare team and quarantined patients. The system helped patients self-assess their condition and update health care providers on symptoms.
Testing results. A dedicated multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals adopted the platform for a period of approximately 3 months (late March to June 2020) to monitor a total of 170 patients with confirmed COVID-19 during home quarantine. All patients used the system until the end of the initiative. The experience of using TreCovid19 has provided useful insights into the possible feasibility and impact of a technological-organizational system to manage a sudden and potentially critical workload for healthcare providers involved in the periodic monitoring of a significant number of quarantined patients, despite the limits due to the rapid implementation of the whole initiative.
The study’s conclusions show that, despite the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted the need for rapid changes in health care delivery, the system successfully supported health care providers involved and offered valuable data in terms of disease surveillance.
In this perspective, further optimization of the system and its potential extension to larger groups of patients could further increase its applicability.
The paper is available on the JMIR Form Res website at: https://formative.jmir.org/2021/5/e25713.
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