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A feasibility study for the provision of electronic healthcare tools and services in areas of Greece, Cyprus and Italy

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Author(s): Mougiakakou Stavroula | Kyriacou Efthyvoulos | Perakis Kostas | Papadopoulos Homer | Androulidakis Aggelos | Konnis Georgios | Tranfaglia Riccardo | Pecchia Leandro | Bracale Umberto | Pattichis Constantinos | Koutsouris Dimitrios

Journal: BioMedical Engineering OnLine
ISSN 1475-925X

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 49;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Through this paper, we present the initial steps for the creation of an integrated platform for the provision of a series of eHealth tools and services to both citizens and travelers in isolated areas of thesoutheast Mediterranean, and on board ships travelling across it. The platform was created through an INTERREG IIIB ARCHIMED project called INTERMED. Methods The support of primary healthcare, home care and the continuous education of physicians are the three major issues that the proposed platform is trying to facilitate. The proposed system is based on state-of-the-art telemedicine systems and is able to provide the following healthcare services: i) Telecollaboration and teleconsultation services between remotely located healthcare providers, ii) telemedicine services in emergencies, iii) home telecare services for "at risk" citizens such as the elderly and patients with chronic diseases, and iv) eLearning services for the continuous training through seminars of both healthcare personnel (physicians, nurses etc) and persons supporting "at risk" citizens. These systems support data transmission over simple phone lines, internet connections, integrated services digital network/digital subscriber lines, satellite links, mobile networks (GPRS/3G), and wireless local area networks. The data corresponds, among others, to voice, vital biosignals, still medical images, video, and data used by eLearning applications. The proposed platform comprises several systems, each supporting different services. These were integrated using a common data storage and exchange scheme in order to achieve system interoperability in terms of software, language and national characteristics. Results The platform has been installed and evaluated in different rural and urban sites in Greece, Cyprus and Italy. The evaluation was mainly related to technical issues and user satisfaction. The selected sites are, among others, rural health centers, ambulances, homes of "at-risk" citizens, and a ferry. Conclusions The results proved the functionality and utilization of the platform in various rural places in Greece, Cyprus and Italy. However, further actions are needed to enable the local healthcare systems and the different population groups to be familiarized with, and use in their everyday lives, mature technological solutions for the provision of healthcare services.
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