“The crisis brings progress”. This thought Albert Einstein. And nothing could better describe the innovative SOS service and related app – Smart Ostomy Support, the first example of “connected care” for people with ostomy, incontinence and recanalization. This is a completely new care modality, which cannot be ignored in order to effectively respond to the imperative of lightening the management burden of these pathologies by patients. Especially in this phase of recurrence of infections and hospitalizations from Covid-19, the innovative method of taking charge and management of SOS follow-ups allows to significantly reduce the influx of ostomate patients to the hospital, entrusting technological connections with the possibility remote assistance and care. An important step considering that there are almost 86 thousand ostomy patients in our country and that the disease has a growth rate of 6-8% per year.
This is the first initiative of its kind in the field of ostomy and incontinence, a real quantum leap for patients, doctors and the Health Service since it will be possible: to provide assistance to ostomate or incontinent patients in geographical areas that do not have specialized clinics; help patients with reduced mobility who would receive consultation remotely without having to go to the clinic, where possible; reduce the environmental impact by reducing the need for nurses, doctors and patients to travel; reduce costs for the National Health System, reducing false emergencies and access to the emergency room; offer a work-life balance tool for doctors, nurses and ostomotherapists; improve the quality of work by structuring processes and reducing the indiscriminate and unregulated use of commercial communication tools for requests for help (for example WhatsApp), discourage the phenomenon of “do it yourself” by the patient who often recurs to the web to get answers to a more or less urgent need. SOS – Smart Ostomy Support is a remote assistance service, implemented by individual hospitals that is launched in the Ulss Euganea in Padua. This has contributed decisively to the development of the application, providing all the necessary information and qualifying as a pilot center. In Veneto there are over 6,500 ostomates, of which about 25% reside in the province of Padua. Also in Veneto, men and women interested, at various levels , from urinary and fecal incontinence are several hundred thousand.
“We are extremely proud of this project – explains Pier Raffaele Spena, President of FAIS – it is an initiative that arises from the real needs of people who experience stoma and incontinence, the association takes it on itself and creates useful and effective solutions . We are confident that, once fully operational, it will contribute to improving the quality of life of patients. The assistance to the ostomate is in fact complex and delicate and needs constant attention. For this reason, it is entrusted to a specialized nurse, the ostomotherapist, who follows all the phases of education and rehabilitation up to complete autonomy which consists in the ability to manage the change of the unit and evaluate any anomalies on the part of the ostomate. Achievement of autonomy varies from patient to patient. This is the period in which the person can present himself more fragile and needs constant assistance. On the one hand, resuming daily activities (work, sports, hobbies) on the other hand the specific management of the unit (for example the detachment of the plaque), could lead the person, and his / her caregiver, to often go to the reference clinic , even when the presence of the patient is not strictly necessary. SOS is able to lighten all this. The positive effects also involve health professionals: the personnel involved in the trial will not necessarily have to work from a doctor’s office or hospital, but will be able to assist patients also from different places (for example their home), according to the principle of smart working “.
The Service was activated in June at the Poliambulanza Foundation in Brescia and will be activated in November also at the National Cancer Institute of Naples “Pascale Foundation”. «We are all facing a very difficult period, but we believe that we must look beyond the emergency to help build a more resilient healthcare, closer to the needs of patients and which guarantees new opportunities for reconciling work-life for healthcare professionals. For this reason the SOS project goes on and the start of the experimentation at Ulss 6 Euganea in Padua – declares Nicola Caione, head of the FAIS project – is an important result that we achieve with the contribution of the whole team that I thank for their commitment established. We move the data and not the patients ». Technological innovation and the growing diffusion of integrated health information systems accessible even remotely, make it possible for the doctor-patient to interact at a distance and can therefore enable smart working for this sector too. The working methods of doctors can only benefit from the innovation of tools and the digitization of work flows. However, this change needs to be accompanied by preparatory work on the processes, investing in the training of doctors and all personnel working in the health sector. Naturally, the role of the citizen also evolves and must be adequately informed of the possibilities offered by remote care. The heart of the service lies in the concept of “connected care”, a system that allows the multidisciplinary and home management (not hospitalized) of the elderly, chronic, frail and non self-sufficient patient, leveraging on organizational models and innovative technological solutions.
At the service of the most fragile
“We place innovation at the service of the most vulnerable – comments Domenico Scibetta, General Manager of the Ulss 6 Euganea Company – for this reason we have enthusiastically joined the implementation of the SOS project, which in Ulss 6 Euganea started a few weeks ago with the recruitment of the first patients involved in the trial. There are about 1,400 ostomates between Padua and the province, with almost 250 new visits a year in the five dedicated clinics throughout the area. SOS immediately seemed to us consistent with the corporate interest in the development of proximity medicine, which puts the patient in a position to see guaranteed, even remotely and with ‘virtual consultations’, a more accessible form of assistance, via smartphone or Tablet. However, the project solution conceived does not replace the current form of assistance, but integrates and improves it, making it safer in this delicate period of resurgence of the health emergency from Covid-19. Proximity medicine and related treatments are among our corporate objectives and the SOS project fully responds to the development models of the Veneto Region ». The project is carried out with the contribution of the CSR Cassa di Sovvenzioni e Risparmio di Banca d’Italia.