ICT for home-monitoring of transplant patients

The use of ICT for the remote monitoring of transplant patients can help provide patients with space and freedom to live life as normally as possible, in their home environment.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

The aim of the Prometheus project is to develop the remote monitoring of transplant patients through the installation of computers in the home, in order to connect patients to a health care team, and help facilitate their social and professional reintegration from within their home environment, while at the same time reducing the economic burden of transplant care and improving the allocation of transplant grafts.

Home computer terminal

The project is based around a comparison and analysis of two groups of 50 transplant patients in Freiburg with an incompatible kidney and of two groups of 50 patients in Strasbourg who had received a transplant for a recurrent liver disease.

Half of each group are using ICT in the form of a home computer terminal. This group is being compared to those receiving conventional care based on regular outpatient visits.

The computer terminals installed in the patients’ homes are interactive terminals, with a touch screen, as well as a videoconferencing set-up, a digital pen and connected to a broadband network, WiFi, 3G. The compiled results are analysed each day by a server, and human intervention is also possible through videoconferencing when required.

The patients are required to enter physiological parameters and answers to multiple choice questions related to their particular condition or situation. They are fully instructed on how the system works and what to expect, during their initial period of hospitalisation for the transplant operation, and this instruction will continue at home. The results will be analysed according to medical, social and economic criteria. A comparison of medical and cultural approaches will also be made and biannual reports on the progress of the project will be prepared.

Likely benefits

It is expected that the patient will benefit from being based at home as this is generally considered to be a more comfortable and familiar environment, they will also benefit from closer monitoring. Trips into the transplant centre will be reduced even though the frequency of monitoring will increase from a rate of multi-weekly or monthly to a daily frequency.

The number of long term transplant hospitalisations should be reduced correspondingly. The reduction in the use of medical transportation and the duration of hospitalisations, will see a marked economic benefit overall, which will in turn enhance the sustainability of the program.

The teams involved on the Prometheus project have been working for 20 years on the creation of a European course of transplantation and the development of new thematic transplants. They view this project as a way to extend this partnership and to further develop a common philosophy for the donation of organs, and ultimately to change the current rules of allocation of transplant grafts beyond the national framework.

Draft date