Digital medicine, the new frontier of health

A new, more efficient and faster healthcare, tailored to each of us

The need for public access to care during the pandemic, despite lockdowns and contingent entry into hospitals, has led to a progressive and rapid adoption of digital tools for some areas of disease care. At first marginal, over the months it has become a necessary and very convenient means of obtaining medical assistance.

If accompanied by instruments for measuring parameters (thermometers, pressure gauges, oximeters, etc.), the private citizen can provide a series of information to facilitate the doctor's diagnosis. Undoubtedly, the citizen becomes a more active subject in the digital world: he is more informed and aware of the measurements to be followed and which parameters to keep as a reference.

At the population level, the great advantage of digital medicine can be easily understood. Especially in Italy - where the longevity and average age of the population are very high - it is unthinkable to hope to have quality medicine with the methods of the past (one of which is the lack of medical personnel).

The traditional model of the Italian National Health System is composed of the central unit of the hospital (where you have access to specific or emergency care and treatments), flanked by a network of general practitioners (for first accesses and cases that can be resolved on site) .

A new health model would require the introduction of a new figure in the health sector: an ICT expert. The need to visit patients safely gave the idea to some doctors in the private sector to organize video calls; subsequently, institutions such as regions began to outline guidelines to adapt this model to the public sector, to develop ad hoc software and to inform doctors.

The private sector has provided and continues to provide devices and sensors for measuring vital signs. An example of this is the Empatica bracelet, a company that manufactures these wearable devices for calculating and storing data from the user. Once these data are taken, they are analyzed and studied through the application of different algorithms to try to understand what happens to the individual in real time. For now, Empatica specializes in neurological disorders such as epilepsy, autism, chronic migraines, depression and anxiety. But there is no lack of studies to apply this technology to other branches of medicine, one of these being the ability to signal when the immune system is activating to fight an infection and notify the user in real time. This is possible thanks to the sensors that observe the parameters continuously and can therefore perceive a minimal alteration in a very sophisticated way. These parameters are integrated through the predictive mathematical model, which can provide an estimate on the probability that a user is sick or not.

The new wearable technological gadgets - such as smartwatches - allow constant observation of our vital parameters, our sleep-wake cycle and our physical activity. All these observations can be collected, analyzed and visualized by ourselves and by doctors, to make the context of our general health even better. This wealth of personalized and specific knowledge can lead to the preventive diagnosis of pathologies that could arise in the future, provide a probabilistic estimate and act today on how to have the best chance of avoiding them. It is an incredible change: if before a disease was treated after the manifestation of symptoms, in the future it will be possible to foresee and act accordingly. Undoubtedly the healthy lifestyle will remain the basis for everyone, but the strong specificity of these personal microdata can be useful for improving and personalizing decisions to prevent even serious pathologies.

Artificial intelligence gives its best when it has a huge amount of data to operate on. A wearable device generates an impressive amount of data in a single day and does it every day 24/7. If you then multiply this amount for each user, the AI and its algorithms can provide knowledge that until recently was unimaginable, finding correlations between data patterns and pathologies is just a case study. Other examples can be diagnostic imaging and radiographs that can identify fractures, tumors and other problems earlier and more precisely than human radiologists.

Human contact certainly cannot be replaced by a technological tool, however sophisticated it may be. However, there are platforms to connect patients and doctors such as Medical Pages, a free portal for booking specialist visits. It is mainly used in the private sector, but it provides the public with user data when required. In the future, these tools, rather than replace the public sector, will support and enhance it. Of the more efficient hospitals we will go to less and for specific cases, a general practitioner and a pharmacist as proximity points trained to interpret the data we will have produced, for better and tailor-made health.

Translated by Veronica Giustiniani

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  • L'Autore

    Andrea Radaelli

    Andrea Radaelli, nato il 20 ottobre 1997, caporedattore del progetto 'Tecnologia ed Innovazione' mi considero un soggetto particolarmente vivace e interessato a come funziona il mondo. L’aggettivo che più spesso hanno utilizzato i miei parenti, i miei amici e le persone che mi stanno accanto per descrivermi è senza dubbio ‘curioso’.

    Curioso del mondo, di come funziona e dei nostri effetti su di esso. Non solo in campo scientifico ma anche economico e geopolitico. Mi interesso di tutto ciò che ha un outcome positivo e propositivo, soprattutto nella sanità e nelle nuove tecnologie.

    Curioso per le mie opinioni molto forti e per certi aspetti critiche sulla società, che a volte diventano i miei limiti. Alcune di queste sono che la conoscenza è faticosa ma rende liberi, che l’ignoranza nell’era dell’informazione è una scelta consapevole e che l’uguaglianza (dare alle persone le stesse cose) è un paradigma da superare con l’equità (dare alle persone le stesse opportunità).

    Curioso anche per la mia personalità; ho delle idee molto ben determinate, sono un convinto ‘individualista sociale’. Cioè che ognuno di noi deve prima crescere e acculturarsi secondo le proprie inclinazioni per poi poter entrare in un gruppo di lavoro per poterlo arricchire della sua prospettiva.

    Curioso per le mie scelte, dopo le medie ho scelto un liceo ad indirizzo artistico nonostante i miei professori spingessero per un liceo classico. Durante questi cinque anni ho avuto modo di viaggiare per l’Italia e scoprire gli incredibili siti dell’UNESCO. Ho viaggiato anche in Europa nelle maggiori capitali e mi sono innamorato dell’Unione Europea. Ho compreso quanto siamo fortunati del far parte di comunità internazionale e delle straordinarie opportunità che offre. Finite le superiori, ho scelto di studiare lingue applicate all’ambito economico nel CdL di ‘Scienze per la Mediazione Linguistica e Culturale’, un’università ricca di diversità; di nazionalità diverse, di lingue diverse e di culture diverse. Tutta questa eterogeneità mi ha spinto a ricercare un percorso magistrale decisamente più strutturato ed innovativo; 'Data Science and Business Intelligence'. La scienza dei dati si compone di principi metodologici basati sul metodo scientifico e di tecniche multidisciplinari volte ad interpretare ed estrarre conoscenza dai dati attraverso l'analisi statistica.

    Di Mondo Internazionale mi ha colpito la potenzialità, la composizione giovane e il dinamismo. Le aree tematiche nel quale mi trovo a mio agio sono economia, sanità e innovazione. Il progetto di ‘Tecnologia ed Innovazione’ è quello con cui collaboro maggiormente e, soprattutto grazie alla pazienza dei miei collaboratori, mi trovo veramente bene.

    Andrea Radaelli, born on 20 October 1997, editor-in-chief of 'Technology and Innovation' project, I consider myself as a particularly lively person and interested in how the world works. The adjective that my relatives and my friends have used the most to describe me is undoubtedly 'curious'.

    Curious about the world, how it works and our effects on it. Not only in the scientific field but also in the economic and geopolitical field. I am interested in everything that has a positive and proactive outcome, especially in healthcare and new technologies.

    Curious for my very strong and, in some respects, critical views on society, which sometimes become my limitations. Some of these are that knowledge takes effort but is essential, that ignorance in the information age is a conscious choice and that equality (giving people the same things) is a paradigm to be overcome with fairness (give people the same opportunities).

    Also curious about my personality; I have very well-defined ideas, I am a convinced 'social individualist'. That is, each of us must first grow and acculturate according to their own tastes in order to be able to be a good team player in a work group in order to enrich it with new insights.

    Curious about my choices, after secondary school I chose an artistic high school despite my teachers pushing for a classical high school. During these five years I have had the opportunity to travel around Italy and discover its incredible UNESCO sites. I also traveled around Europe in the major capitals and fell in love with the European Union. I realized how fortunate we all are to be part of this international community and the extraordinary opportunities it offers. After graduating from high school, I chose to study languages ​​applied to economics, 'Sciences for Linguistic and Cultural Mediation', a university rich in diversity; of different nationalities, of different languages ​​and of different cultures. All this heterogeneity pushed me to seek a decidedly more structured and innovative master's path; 'Data Science and Business Intelligence'. Data science consists of methodological principles based on statistics, scientific method and multidisciplinary techniques aimed at interpreting and extracting knowledge from data through statistical analysis.

    I was struck by Mondo Internazionale's potential, young composition and dynamism. The thematic areas in which I am comfortable are economics, health and innovation. The 'Technology and Innovation' project is the one I collaborate with most and, thanks to the patience of my collaborators, I am really happy with it.


Sections Technology and Innovation


healthcare digital smartphone smart watch public healthcare private healthcare

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