A retired TimTem Telemedicine field worker is not in the least a man at rest

Pisa 30 October 2003Professor Enrico Cavina, now retired from the Department of Surgery at the University of Pisa but still the ardent advocate of the TimTem Telemedicine Station which his team has been building up with tireless effort on the Greek isle of Tilos, has contacted Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine after a fairly long period of time to keep us posted about the latest facts with regard to the TimTem whereabouts on Tilos. As always with die-hard experts in field research, Professor Cavina's story is one of mixed feelings but nevertheless, his true conviction about the use of telemedicine for remote and rural areas in general makes his long and tough experience a hopeful one.

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Professor Cavina told VMW that the fact that he is now retired partly invoked the decision to cut the availability for Tilos to have safe and prompt teleconsult services from the Department of Surgery at the University of Pisa. Professor Cavina is uncertain about the interest of Pisa University in telemedicine in the near future. However, his colleague on the TimTem project, Dr. Giuseppe Zocco will remain fully active.

After the strong "cutting", it was necessary to stimulate the local TimTem people on Tilos to solve the problems and weaknesses where the so-called human factors are concerned, and by high merit of the Greek technician Elena Pissa, trained by the Italian TimTem team during 2002, Tilos TimTem people are now in condition to have a permanent telecardiology teleconsult running through an excellent mixing of ECG, a videoconferencing guide to the right ECG connections, vital parameters, and a live guide to the care. Connections are being made with the cardiologists of the Hospital in Rhodes.

Professor Cavina has checked the system personally, in emergency cases as well as in normal routine and it runs excellently, according to his opinion. There is also a permanent ultrasound teleconsult with an expert doctor at the Hospital of Rhodes up and running. The professor also stated that the live images are perfect and that the guide to the technician for moving the probes is patient and effective. The diagnostic results are true. As to Dr. Cavina's insight, this ultrasound system is the key for present and future times.

Furthermore, the chromatographic laboratory for 80 blood examinations is active and the neurosurgery teleconsult is available for strokes. In addition, the administrative General Manager of the Hospital in Rhodes has visited the Tilos Telemedicine Station recently, and has promised an extension of the teleconsults. The people in the island have expressed their satisfaction with regard to the telemedicine opportunities taking care of them.

Professor Cavina also stated that the scientific report on the TimTem experience has been published in the Telemedicine Journal and e-Health - Volume 9, nr. 1, 2003 - pages 117-121. As he told VMW the national debate in Greece about the use of telemedicine still continues, also depending on the next Olympic year. "A lot of talking is going on and lots of money are running ...", stated the professor tongue-in-cheek.

Anyway, Professor Cavina thinks that the result of the TimTem project remains factually an individual case as a Telemedicine Service for Clinical Teleconsult at full fields. To his experience, large planning for extensive areas such as countries or even regions, has more possibilities to fail than a little project door-to-door managed by a correct understanding of the typical local "human factors".

Professor Cavina ended by saying that he honestly doesn't know whether today in the Mediterranean area, there are still other true experiences running which are similar to Tilos. As a matter of fact, the professor will continue to co-operate in Telemedicine work on Tilos.

For a consistent insight in the long history of the TimTem project, please consult the following VMW articles:

For more information, you can also visit the TimTem project Web site or the local Tilos-Lavidia Telemedicine Station Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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