A survey on feasibility of telehealth services among young Italian pharmacists
Background: Telemedicine is defined as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s health status”. This relatively new concept of healthcare is based on the fusion between medical assistance and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to provide support to people located in remote and underserved areas. It can be found not only in hospitals, but also in other healthcare facilities such as pharmacies. Starting from 2010, telemedicine or telehealth was formally introduced in the Italian pharmaceutical context with the "Pharmacy of Services Decree". In spite of this regulatory framework, the implementation of this technology was very slow and there are no data about the spreading and use of these services in Italian pharmacies.
Objective: The present study has therefore developed a survey to collect information on the diffusion of telemedicine/telehealth services within Italian pharmacies.
Methods: A two-part questionnaire in Italian was developed using SurveyMonkey, setting a mechanism aimed to have different outcomes according to the answers given. Six hundred eighty-three respondents returned the questionnaire. The results were then analysed statistically.
Results: The questionnaire results have shown a limited diffusion of telemedicine/telehealth services among Italian pharmacies and an apparently limited interest of health authorities in supporting the integration of this technology.
Conclusions: More efforts should be spent by national public health stakeholders to better analyse the contribution of telemedicine services available in public pharmacies and to find the best solutions to implement this innovative technology as an established service.
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