National Telemedicine System in Slovenia for Remote Interpretation of Pre-Transfusion Tests

M.M.Kvanka, M.Breskvar, M.Simc

The aim of the development and implementation of telemedicine (TM) in blood transfusion service (BTS) nationwide in the 2005– 2008 period was to enable an expert from the central reference laboratory to give opinion that can be used at any remote site . After 2008, the reorganization of BTS started: the former Transfusion departments of regional hospitals became dislocated Transfusion centres (TC) of the Blood Transfusion Centre of Slovenia (BTCS) or the Maribor Centre for Transfusion Medicine (7 and 2 affiliated centres respectively). Owing to the shortage of transfusion medicine doctors (TMD) needed for the organization of nonstop work at dislocated TCs, after hospital medical doctors of other specialties stopped being involved, the use of TM ranged from giving advice in the case of complex patients to remote interpretation of pre-transfusion and prenatal tests for all routine patients . The TM service is organized 24/7 and is used in 9 dislocated transfusion laboratories when a TMD is not available. After receiving a request for blood components, the laboratory personnel perform the obligatory pre-transfusion tests in gel cards and create a TM session with captured images of the cards for each patient. The sessions are sent to a teleconsultant, a TMD working on the other location, who is responsible for several remote transfusion laboratories (7 or 2) at the same time. After interpretation and validation, the test results are issued with the electronic signature. Since the implementation of TM, the number of sessions increased from 290 sessions in 2008 to 21,220 in 2014. The use of TM has a strong impact on the improved and timely transfusion service for patients, improved relationship between BTS and hospitals, improved organization and rationalization of work in BTS and on substantial cost savings. TM allows pre-transfusion tests all over the state to be interpreted by TMDs 24/7. Consequently, increased patient’s safety is expected and the same quality of service for all the patients regardless of time and location is provided. So far, the TM system has proved to be reliable and secure and has been highly appreciated by its users.

telemedicine, blood transfusion service, network, remote test interpretation