Description of the social needs targeted by the initiative
In last decade population is rapidly aging. As consequence the patient demand of home healthcare is increasing as well as the investment of national governs in developing new healthcare paradigms, in particularly to reduce the hospitalization cost of chronic diseases. ANT Foundation (www.ant.it) successfully developed the largest EU home-based cancer hospital with 3,300+ patients assisted at their home and organized in 21 regional clusters in Italy. ANT Hospital involves 224+ professionals (doctors, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, nutritionists, physiotherapists, social workers) and 1,300 volunteers for support roles. That creates a complex distributed system, affected by several issues: communication limits, data and knowledge sharing, people and resources scheduling, assets tracking, displacements optimization. Information and mobile technologies can be used to address those issues and help ANT to offer the same care benefit and efficiency of a traditional onesite hospital.
Presentation of the key players
Nethical “innovating healthcare” (www.nethical.it/en) is a Bologna, Italy headquartered start-up focused on developing SaaS (software-as-a-service) technologies for healthcare in mobile contests. The company focuses on optimizing the cost of western countries healthcare as well as on providing powerful tools to under-development countries such as Serbia or Bangladesh. ANT Foundation (www.ant.it) is an Italian leading no-profit organization for assistance of advanced cancer patients (78,000+ from 1985) and their families. ANT offers free-of-charge professional medical assistance, drugs, food and psychology consultancy as well as disease prevention and screening programs to people of any race, sex and wealth. ANT in EU countries has launched several pilot programs.
Development of the initiative
The wide technical background of Nethical and the solid medical expertise of ANT Foundation have been mixed to develop Vitaever (www.vitaever.com/en), a cutting edge mobile smart technology to track, manage and optimize personnel, assets and goods of a distributed healthcare service as well as of a traditional one-site hospital. Vitaever is distributed via web as-a-service (SaaS) with no cost for installation, maintenance and server hardware. The initiative, launched in mid 2008, took benefit from a previous three-year collaboration and was self-founded by Nethical.
Obstacles and difficulties overcome by the initiative
Several technical issues were faced during the Vitaever project. Open source technologies and core custom made blocks were mixed in order to address high performances and security. The development required several technology rounds and a multidisciplinary team, composed by ANT doctors and Nethical technologists, to convert ANT best practices into Vitaever procedures. That was the right approach: today this task force is boosting feedbacks for the Vitaever final tuning.
Current situation and perspective for the future
Completed the beta version in summer 2010, today Vitaever is successfully tested by ANT early-adopters. The full adoption is planned for end 2010. Thanks to this collaboration ANTwill have access to state-of-art technologies at particularly economical conditions, less that the market value. On the other hand Nethical will cover the investment by commercializing Vitaever and by using this technology as building blocks for future innovations. Nethical plans to bring Vitaever cost-saving model to under-developing countries (Bangladesh is on the way) for overcoming economical barriers to access healthcare top-technologies. This is social innovation.