Telemed J E Health - Is the digital divide an obstacle to e-health? An analysis of the situation in Europe and in Italy.


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TRODUCTION: The digital divide affecting elderly patients may compromise the diffusion of telemedicine systems for this age segment. It might be that the difficulties in the passage from trials to the effective distribution of telemedicine systems are also due to the awareness of a personal digital divide in the target population.MATERIALS AND METHODS: The analysis aims to estimate the number of people over the age of 50 years with potential cardiovascular problems able to access the Web. It made use of data from several sources (the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica Multiscopo Survey). Furthermore, with regard to Italy, the estimates obtained from official data were compared with those obtained in a survey investigating heart failure patients in Tuscany.RESULTS: In 2011, the percentage of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and with Web access was 24% in Europe, with significant differences by country (ranging from 53% in Switzerland to below 20% in Italy, Spain, and Portugal). In Italy, however, the proportion of people with Web access increased from 2007 to 2011, and the survey in Tuscany showed that elderly people with limited information and communications technology skills overcame challenges and learned how to connect to the Web because they started to appreciate new technologies.CONCLUSIONS: The opportunity to use the Internet to monitor patients with chronic disease can serve as a challenge to reduce the digital divide gap and, furthermore, to increase their social and technological inclusion.

Resumo Limpo

troduct digit divid affect elder patient may compromis diffus telemedicin system age segment might difficulti passag trial effect distribut telemedicin system also due awar person digit divid target populationmateri method analysi aim estim number peopl age year potenti cardiovascular problem abl access web made use data sever sourc survey health age retir europ istituto nazional di statistica multiscopo survey furthermor regard itali estim obtain offici data compar obtain survey investig heart failur patient tuscanyresult percentag peopl suffer cardiovascular diseas web access europ signific differ countri rang switzerland itali spain portug itali howev proport peopl web access increas survey tuscani show elder peopl limit inform communic technolog skill overcam challeng learn connect web start appreci new technologiesconclus opportun use internet monitor patient chronic diseas can serv challeng reduc digit divid gap furthermor increas social technolog inclus

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