The potential impact of advanced medical communication systems on the communities that the medical centers serve

The introduction of health information technology into community environments can have many and varied effects. As the adoption rates of such systems increase, so does the understanding that we must act with great sensitivity and responsibility.

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Although the adoption of medical communication technologies is a growing phenomenon in the hyper-technological age we live in, it is still a relatively new phenomenon that is at the forefront of techno-medical practice. Therefore the global research community still has only limited data on the frequency and impact of these events.

The understanding that we are stepping towards an unknown frontier of socio-medical discoveries and influences, obliges us to be very sensitive to the processes and potential impacts on the communities that the medical centers serve.

ICU4CVID aims to provide advanced intensive care medical services (suitable for the fight against COVID-19) to the citizen and the health workforce in the EU and to do so quickly and on a large scale. This is done by deploying and implementing a telecommunications cyber-physical system (CPS4TIC).

The desire to reach as many communities as quickly involves understanding that this has a great potential impact. Efficient and sensitive implementation of the system can: reduce the distance as a barrier between patients and doctors, minimize the negative impact that patient transport has, make a tailored diagnosis and clinical diagnosis accessible, protect against further spread of diseases among community health and patients, quick and immediate access to information, etc. However, the assimilation of this type of system, which is done in an insensitive manner, can affect the socio-medical fabric in unexpected ways, possible effects are for example: expanding social distance, reducing interpersonal communication, generalizing patients and more.

As those involved in the implementation of an innovative telecommunication system, in a world of knowledge that is clearly at the forefront of technology, we must walk with open eyes and great social sensitivity. We need to be well aware of the cultural differences and rely on professionals from the local communities themselves. This is one of the reasons why we take the Hubs approach.

ICU4COVID Hubs provide specialized, high quality patient telemedical care to over 50,000 intensive care patients including in remote regions. Within the ICU Hubs, we implement at least one daily rounding with each of the partner hospitals. During the rounding, clinical details of each current patient on the ward are discussed together with experts within the excellence center in a “doc2doc” communication setting using a specific Tele-ICU cart. The latter enables the doctors in the local center core hospital to see and hear both the colleagues and patients in the connected hospital. Which allows the physician to exercise judgment and act out of his in-depth familiarity with the local community.

ICU4COVID wants to try and ensure as much as possible the most positive impact on the communities that the medical centers are at the center of. We are at all times cautious and hold the understanding that the assimilation of advanced techno-medicine has a significant impact on the present and future of our communities.