Healthcare Quality Management and Integrated Care Pathways (ICPs)

Igiene e Sanità Pubblica 2022; 81 (4):135-140

Giuseppe Gambale*, Andrea De Giorgi**, Marta Castellani**, Elisa Mazzeo**, Rosario Andrea Cocchiara*, Giovanni Profico*, Simona Amato*

*Rome Healthcare Local Authority 2
** Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases – Sapienza University of Rome

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the largest causes of morbidity and chronic mortality and a public health problem of high importance. In Italy, COPD afflicts 5.6% of adult (3.5 million people) and is responsible for 55% of all deaths related to respiratory diseases. Smokers have a higher risk, in fact up to 40% develop the disease. From the Covid-19 pandemic, the most affected population is the elderly (mean age 80 years old), with previous chronic diseases, in 18% with chronic respiratory.

The aim of the present work was to validate and measure the outcomes produced by the recruitment and care of COPD patients enrolled by an Healthcare Local Authority in the corresponding Integrated Care Pathways (ICPs) in order to measure how a multidisciplinary, systemic and e-health monitored care impacts upon mortality and morbidity.

Materials and Methods
Enrolled patients were stratified through the GOLD guidelines classification, a unified method to discriminate the various degrees of severity of COPD, using specific spirometric cut-points and providing homogeneous classes of patients. Monitoring examinations include simple spirometry, global spirometry, diffusing capacity measurement, pulse oximetry, EGA, 6-minute walk test. Chest Rx, chest CT, ECG may also be required. The severity of COPD identifies the timing of monitoring, which involves a fixed annual re-assessment for mild offset clinical forms, biannually in case of exacerbation, a quarterly cadence in moderate forms that becomes bimonthly in severe forms.

In 2344 enrolled patients (46% women and 54% men, mean age 78 yo) 18% had GOLD severity 1, 35% GOLD 2, 27% GOLD 3 and 20% GOLD 4. In addition, 73% of patients had at least one other chronic comorbidity, mainly diabetes or hypertension, and in 48% both. The data analysis showed that the population followed in e-health presented a 49% reduction in improper hospital admissions and a 68% reduction in clinical exacerbations compared to the population enrolled in the ICPs but not followed also in e-health. Smoking habits present at the time of patient enrollment in the ICPs remained in 49% of the total population enrolled and in 37% of the population enrolled in e-health. The patients enrolled in GOLD 1 and 2 obtained the same benefits both if treated in e- health and if treated in the clinic. However, GOLD 3 and 4 patients instead presented better compliance if treated in e-health and continuous monitoring allowed punctual and early interventions such as to reduce complications and hospitalization.

The e-health approach made possible to ensure proximity medicine and personalization of care. Indeed, the implemented diagnostic treatment protocols, if properly followed and monitored, are able to control complications and impact the mortality and disability of chronic disease. The advent of e-health and ICT tools are demonstrating a great support capacity for care taking that also allows greater adherence to patient care pathways, even more than the protocols up to now identified, characterized by a monitoring programmed over time, enhancing a patients and their families quality of life improvement.

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