Experience in the field of telemedicine at Caritas Alba Iulia

In 2010 we had a project financed by EEA Grants, due to which we made a statistical survey on a sample of 1200 households from the counties of Harghita, Covasna and Mures investigating the accessibility of people living in rural areas to specialized medical services. The results showed that in the targeted localities there is a lack of specialized health care services.

Based on these data in 2012 we started a telemedicine activity that involves for example performing ECG for patients with heart problems or for heart problems exclusion. The ECG results (sounds) are transmitted via mobile phone from the residence of the person to a monitoring center in Bucharest where the sounds will be transformed to interpretable ECGs with the help of an application. Specialists doctors interpret and send the results via e-mail to Caritas nurses who print them and make them available to the patient or to the family doctor.

Between 2012 and 2013, in partnership with Harghita County Council we organized a screening program in which we carried out laboratory investigations into 21 territorial units of Harghita county.

In 2012 we investigated 1421 persons and in 2013 1538 persons. In 2012 there were made in total 6536 investigations from which there were 1100 ECG recordings and interpretations and in 2013 there were 6209 investigations from which there were 928 ECG records and interpretations.

The Investigations were the followings: BP measurement, measurement of cholesterol and triglycerides, ECG.

As a result we concluded that a percentage of 27.76% of the investigated persons present high values at blood pressure and 31.30% and 29.31% have high cholesterol and triglyceride values.

Since 2014 we are continuously measuring ECGs with the support of the Romanian Vodafone Foundation. In this way we try to reach and help elderly persons who live in rural areas, with poor financial situation, who suffer in cardiovascular disease, and do not have the possibility to go to a specialist for medical care.

Due to our socio-medical home care service, which is developed in 5 counties in Romania, nurses at Caritas Alba Iulia can easily reach rural areas, so patients who are living isolated. For ECG measurements we are using the HeartWiev device. The HeartView device is easy to use and it records a full 12-lead electrocardiogram, replacing the classic and hard process of application of the 12 electrodes with applying a single electrode to the zone of the groin and two bracelets on the wrists. Data recorded by nurses from Caritas are transmitted via mobile phone to a special decoding software, then medical specialists from the Monitoring Center are interpreting quickly and accurately the received data, then evaluate the  condition of the patient and transmit the result of interpretation through the nurse from Caritas to the patient’s doctor.

By the month of March 2015 there were made a number of 1095 ECGs in the counties of HR, MS, CV, AB, and IS, which is more than the 600 foreseen measurements from the project funded by the Romanian Vodafone Foundation.

The project can be easily expanded in Romania with the help of Caritas organizations from the country, which have socio-medical home care services, and it can also be expanded via SenioriNet network. SenioriNet is an informal network of 54 NGOs providing home care services in Romania.