iARPlus, the new project by rheumatological telemedicine, starts today with a new computerized platform, interoperable and able to facilitate contacts between the patient, the general practitioner and the rheumatologist specialist. Already in 40 centers “Virtual Rheumatology Outpatient Clinics” are operating in the Peninsula, presenting common and shared models and paths to avoid disparities in the services provided.
L’initiative arises from the need to deal with the health emergencies imposed by the pandemic and the goal is to be able to implement them in the shortest possible time. Presented during the second day of the 57th National Congress of the Scientific Society, the platform is promoted by Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR), with the unconditional support ofNational Association of Rheumatic Patients (ANMAR).
iARPlus is available for patients affected by pathologies more serious like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. On line there are forms for the collection of personal data, laboratory tests, diagnostic results, type of treatment in progress, adherence and comorbidity. The patient will be able to fill in, always online, self-assessment forms on the activity of the disease, integrated into an alarm system that alerts the patient in real time. rheumatologist. If he deems it appropriate, the specialist will be able to assess whether it is necessary to call the patient to the hospital for more detailed checks in the presence.
Luigi Sinigaglia, National President of SIR, was fully in favor of iARPlus: “This new telemedicine project is a fundamental tool in this very delicate moment. Since the index of infections has risen sharply throughout the country we are witnessing the reconversion of rheumatology departments in health facilities for the assistance of patients affected by Covid. We are facing complicated weeks and it is now necessary, and sometimes even essential, to use new modern telematic means».
Also Roberto Gerli, President-elect of SIR, underlined the importance of the project for the health of patients: “Our hope is to move from the 40 currently operational to all rheumatology centers to implement these services as soon as possible throughout the Italian territory. It is a first pilot project which will now have to open up to collaborations with other medical and patient associations. It is a necessity that goes beyond theemergency linked to the current pandemic as new technologies represent an innovative care model that is increasingly centered on the citizen. Telemedicine can contribute and favor a profound reorganization of rheumatological health care and above all facilitate access to health services throughout the Peninsula».
Fausto Salaffi, National Councilor SIR, has also launched an appeal to the institutions in favor of one law dedicated to telemedicine: «Just some Regions have defined precise rules and tariffs for the provision of health services through the use of digital tools. Until the televisions are equated on a bureaucratic-administrative level to the outpatient ones, it will be difficult to start projects in Italy capable of responding to the new challenges. As a Scientific Society we are committed to guaranteeing assistance even remotely to our patients. However, it is essential that health authorities, both local and national, also support the medical community with specific legislative interventions».
Per Silvia Tonolo, National President of ANMAR, it is important to focus attention on the importance of medical assistance even at a distance: “The priority, as patient representatives, he must avoid finding ourselves in the same situation as last spring. In the first months of the pandemic, thousands of rheumatological patients were abandoned and were unable to continue with treatments and controls, also for fear of possible infections. The entire national health system is now again facing an enormous and perhaps even greater effort than in March-April. Telemedicine is not the future but must be the present because, thanks to it, chronically ill patients can have a good level of assistance today. We will continue to collaborate with SIR specialists to implement the use of the new platform. ANMAR is committed to making the Regions, the rheumatology specialists e i family doctors for a concrete and real patient care, exploiting the technological resources currently available through our SMART SHARE project which is able to make existing systems and platforms interoperable in compliance with individual organizational autonomies».
Sinigaglia also expressed his opinion on telemedicine, useful for reducing the load on Italian hospitals even in cases similar to the current one, or with a serious pandemic in progress: “Rheumatological pathologies are increasingly chronic. The Coronavirus emergency has also dramatically affected the rheumatological health facilities especially those active in the areas most affected by Covid. One of the targets of the iARPlus platform is able to decongest the pressure on Italian hospitals. Telemedicine can be a resource, a support to the rheumatologist’s professionalism and not just a momentary technological infrastructure. Investments are needed for technological platforms that must be interoperable to integrate the various data collected».