The National Conference of ITeHP: Telemedicine in Albania: The First 8 Years

The Integrated Telemedicine and e-Health Program in Albania, created and implemented by the International Virtual e-Hospital Foundation (IVeH), organized the National Conference titled: Telemedicine in Albania- The First 8 Years.

This program began in 2007 and is supported by many United States agencies such as: USAID/Albania, US Department of State,  US Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center’s (TATRC) and is implemented in cooperation with the Albanian Ministry of Health.

The National Telemedicine Center was opened in September 2011, and is located in the premises of the University Hospital Center “Mother Teresa”, Tirana. Since 2011 the telemedicine network has expanded in 11 Regional Hospitals, and more recently in the Municipal Hospital of Sarande and “Bajram Curri” (Tropojë).

All the telemedicine centers, in addition to the most advanced technology for video conferencing, also provide Clinical Telemedicine services (by providing distant medical consultations); Virtual Education Program (which aims to increase knowledge and skills of medical personnel by providing continuous medical education programs in their work place, thus avoiding altogether the need to move from one town to another); and the e-Library (the electronic library consists of equipment and technology which enables access to more than 15,000 scientific journals and publications) an online free access to scientific portals as “HINARI” and “PubMed”.

Thanks to the technology and the installed telemedicine network, more than 1.300 patients have been consulted from different hospitals of the country, where more than 80% of them have taken the specialized medical care in the referring hospitals, without the need to be transferred in the hospitals in Tirana. Teleconsultation duration varies from 10 minutes for emergency cases to 30 minutes for standard cases. Among the most important programsare: Teleradiology, Teleneurotrauma, Teleneurology which had the largest number of cases teleconsulted. In the meantime at the University Hospitals, the University Hospital Center of “Mother Teresa” has the greatest burden in this process, providing the teleconsulting service in 70% of the cases.

Another achievement of the program is the broad and active participation of physicians and nurses in the Continuous Medical Education Program, where in over 500 events organized by the Telemedicine Program, a total of over 20.000 medical professionals have participated (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and students of medicine/nurse faculty).

The e-Library is another important activity in the education and qualification of the medical personnel. So far, more than 10.000 people have visited scientific websites that are offered for free from the telemedicine program.

Telemedicine is a cost-effective approach, which apart from offering specialized service in real-time, also reduces significantly not only hospital costs but also those of the patients family members. In October 2015, the International Virtual e-Hospital Foundation conducted several studies on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Telemedicine Program. Findings from this study show that telemedicine is not only effective, but above all it significantly lowers the administrative costs and human resources. Only from the evaluation of the Continuous Education Program, have been saved around 3.1 million USD, savings calculated by removing costs from transportation, per diem, losing a work day for the medical personnel, etc.

“Thanks to the support of the American people through USAID, our dream and the great commitment of the medical personnel, in these eight years, telemedicine is a tangible reality which lies in every corner of the country, providing coverage to all the regions of the country. Today Albania is ranked among the countries with the most complete telemedicine network that integrates all public hospitals, and has become a strong telemedicine castle and model for other countries around the world.” said Prof. Rifat Latifi, Professor and Director at the Westchester Hospital, New York, Leader and Founder of the Albanian and Kosova Telemedicine Program.

“The completion of the physical network of Telemedicine and the increase of the clinical content has created virtual bridges with all the world, while in the regional plan, is building tangible and physical bridges not only in all the Balkan for patients, physicians and nurses, who are not isolated but very close to the whole world, but also Albanian physicians which are part of the advanced academic discussions and advancements everywhere”- said Prof. Latifi.

We are now at the stage where we should find the model for the continuity of the program on our own Albanian strength so that this important development, this great wealth for Albania, to be preserved, cultivated and advanced further in the operating rooms, schools of all health profiles, villages, and at the end in all the homes of Albanian patients, thus becoming part of everyday life and medical practice for generations to come.”-concluded Prof. Latifi.

Currently, through the national telemedicine network, patients will not need to travel hundreds of kilometers to consult with a physician in the regional of university center hospitals, but they will receive this service with the same quality at the hospital of their city, this thanks to this technology which delivers patients near doctors.

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To download the full conference agenda please click here.

In the following list you will find the presentations referred during the conference, listed by sessions:

Session 1:

  1. Telemedicine in Albania: The First 8 Years- Prof. Rifat Latifi, President of IVeH and Director of the Telemedicine Program of Albania and Kosova.

Session 2:

2. Teleneurology and Telestroke- Dr. Erion Dushi, Neurologist at the Neurosurgery Department, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

3. Teleneurotrauma- Dr. Fatos Olldashi, Chief of Neurotrauma Department, Trauma University Hospital.

4. Teleradiology- Dr. Maksim Basho (Chief of the Imaging Department, UHC “Mother Teresa”) and Mr. Evis Bakiu (Computer Programmer at ITeHP-Albania).

5. TeleInfectology- Prof. Pëllumb Pipero and Dr. Gentian Stroni, Infectious Diseases Department, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

6. Teleautism- Dr. Ariel Çomo, Chief of Infantile Psychiatry Department, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

7. 7. Legal and ethical applications of Telemedicine- Dr. Petro Mersini (Director of Hospital Planning Department) Mr. Julian Kucani (Legal Advisor at ITeHP-Albania).

8. 8. Mobile Telemedicine- Ing. Flamur Bekteshi (Telemedicine Program of Kosova) and Ing. Orland Qesteri (Telemedicine Program of Albania).

Session 3:

9. Telenursing CME activities- Mrs. Kimete Kadesha, General Head-Nurse of the Neurosurgery Department, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

10. CME activities: achievements, challenges and ways forward- Dr. Svetllana Bitincka, Department of Infection Control and Prevention, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

11. Development of nursing CME and training activities on trauma care and EMS- Mrs. Shqiponja Rama, Head-Nurse, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

12. Virtual CME platform: a new learning environment- Dr. Altin Azisllari.

Session 4:

13. Teletoxicology- Prof. Zihni Sulaj, Chief of Toxicology Department, UHC “Mother Teresa”.

14. Telenursing Center for Students- Dr. Rustem Celami, Faculty of Medical Sciences and Techniques in Elbasan.

15. Regional Telemedicine Center of Korçë- Ing. Pandi Papando, Director of Korça Regional Hospital.

16. Regional Telemedicine Center of Peshkopi- Dr. Beqir Bici, Director of Peshkopi Regional Hospital.



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