The immigration problem facing Europe has been well documented. Countries have encountered numerous difficulties in assimilating the influx of people. There are any number of issues a country must deal with when accommodating new immigrants, and one of the most pressing is managing the medical issues of newly arrived refugees.
Often immigrants or refugees do not have medical information when they relocate. This, of course, makes it difficult and time-consuming for doctors to diagnose illnesses and track their progress. A team of seven IBM volunteers in Italy has gotten involved in rectifying this issue using modern technology to its best potential.
Doctors and health workers from INTERSOS—an Italian non-profit humanitarian aid organization that works to assist victims of natural disaster and armed conflict—will be able to use a free mobile app developed by the volunteers from the IBM Software Solutions Lab to better assist migrants in need of medical care.
The IBM volunteer team members are Stefano Bevini, Marzia Castellani, Carola Girolami, Giorgia Iarussi, Enrica Immirzi, Alessandro Rea, and Gianluca Pulcini.
New mobile technologies that go above and beyond
The app supports the quick gathering of structured and unstructured data to digitally record patient health information – including video, audio, photos, and x-rays. First deployed at the INTERSOS clinic in Crotone, Italy, the app enables medical staff to search patient records, and track illnesses and progress. In the future, the app will help doctors identify health interventions to improve care.
The app builds upon INTERSOS’s digital network and streamlines its data capturing process, making it easier and quicker for their doctors to digitally record patient health information from an Android device.
“As Europe’s migration crisis deepens, it is critical for doctors to have reliable technology to record and manage information about the health conditions of people arriving in Italy,” says Alessandro Verona, a doctor with INTERSOS. “Partnering with IBM, we now have an easy-to-use, mobile application that meets doctors’ daily needs while providing care for migrants.”
“Our hope was to facilitate the daily job of INTERSOS personnel by providing a tool to access accurate medical data for immigrants that could be used to accelerate their assistance and also be used by groups similar to INTERSOS,” says Giorgia Iarussi, IBM Software Solutions Lab Manager in Rome and part of the team that created the app.
For the lab team, the most surprising thing was to understand daily difficulties faced by INTERSOS personnel, as well as their passion in assisting immigrants and refugees.
“We have seen the other side of the story from newspapers about refugees and immigrants—the doctors supporting and assisting them in their difficult conditions,” says Alessandro Rea, a software engineer in the Software Solutions Lab. “We are proud and grateful for this experience.”
The power of teamwork
“Understanding their daily activities and how difficult is their job, helped us grow from a personal standpoint,” says Carola Girolami, an advisory IT specialist for IBM Software Sales in Rome. “When the solution has been completed and donated, we were excited for helping this group. Realizing now the it has been widely adopted makes us really proud.”
The personal experience and skills acquired in IBM of each team member is the backbone of the project and the reason of this success. “From mobile programming, digital asset management, design thinking and agile methodologies, and various project management competencies, we were able to come together to create something valuable that helps INTERSOS doctors do their jobs better,” says Alessandro.
The INTERSOS clinic in Crotone provides medical aid to migrants, asylum seekers, and low-income immigrants. Over the past year, INTERSOS health workers have treated approximately 2,000 refugees and migrants in the region. The app has made treatment more efficient, improving the care provided and helping this disadvantaged community.
The IBM team from Italy is among 12 other IBM teams and individuals who are recipients of the eleventh annual IBM Volunteer Excellence Award. The award is recognition from IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty, and is the highest form of global volunteer recognition given by the company to employees.
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