On 2 November 2022, the “Guidelines for telemedicine services – Functional requirements and service levels”, approved by the Decree of 21 September 2022 of the Ministry of Health, were published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic.
The Guidelines set out the essential technical requirements to ensure national efficiency and
the homogeneity of the Telemedicine services and fall within Mission 6 of the PNRR. The Mission arises from two requirements:
- Bridging the gap between territorial disparities;
- Integrate the different health services into the different areas of care.
The aim is to strengthen the NHS, aligning services to the needs of users, developing Telemedicine in order to homogenize the health services offered on the territory, in support of home care.
The regulatory framework is aimed at chronic patients, as recalled by Mission 1.2, “Home as the first place of care and telemedicine”. Patients with chronic problems who need to acquire autonomous management of their physical state, while staying at home, need easy access to the network that connects the user to the service.
This will happen thanks to the Platform and the development of Medical Devices designed for monitoring
of vital parameters and that they will be able to acquire information and to transmit data in net, shared between physician-patient. This virtual exchange is the basis of Telemedicine.
The aim is to strengthen the NHS by:
- Align services to users’ needs;
- Strengthen local health facilities and services and home services;
- Develop Telemedicine by making the health services offered in the territory homogeneous;
- Find effective Telemedicine solutions to support home care.
The funds made available for the transition amount to 1 billion Euro of which:
- 250 million euros for the Telemedicine Platform;
- 750 million euros for Telemedicine Services.
These figures, which appear to be important, are justified by a disciplinary area that undoubtedly requires training both by the professional and by the user. Creating a system of difficult access, would be a waste of resources and the goal is to facilitate the network connection between hospital and user on the territory.
This is why the National Agency for Regional Health Services (Agenas), as National Agency for Digital Health (ASD) has prepared the Guidelines to provide guidance on functional requirements and service levels for the design of telemedicine services by regions and autonomous provinces. All this in collaboration with a multi-professional and multidisciplinary Working Group, with the involvement of the Ministry of Health, the Department for Digital Transformation (DTD), the regions and other bodies. Aid that, for the realization of what is indicated, comes from several directions to address the current problems of our NHS.
The document is divided into three sections:
- Functional requirements of Telemedicine services: section identifying the minimum requirements of character functional that will have to characterize the solutions object of development in the regional contexts;
- Technological requirements that will characterize the solutions being developed in regional contexts to ensure the provision of health services under Telemedicine;
- Skills and Training: a section that identifies the competences and the consequent training related to the development and effectiveness of Telemedicine services in regional health contexts for professionals and users.
All this highlights how the critical issues that have emerged in recent years have not gone unnoticed, and how the PNRR has made available the digital resources needed to improve our SSN.
There remain some critical issues: will the management entrusted to the regions help or not to heal the territorial gap? Furthermore, will the functioning of the Platform be able to reach citizens, even those less familiar with technology?
We cannot define it. Undoubtedly, an era has begun when we have access to a new type of medical/patient communication.