Today in Italy, 2 out of 10 children are born thanks to Medically Assisted Procreation, which has now reached about 75,000 operations. Facilitating couples who decide to go down this path, representing 12-14% of the population in child-bearing age, is a real need which can be met by using digital technology.
The first experience at national level, and good international practice, is that of Tuscany, which has created a single technological platform for the shared management of data between the Health Authorities of the Region, with the aim not only of tracing the MAP routes but above all of giving peripheral centers the opportunity to provide the same services as the reference structure. “Working within a network – explains Luca Mencaglia, coordinator of the project for creating the Tuscan MAP regional network – helps us not only to ensure that physically distant structures can collaborate, but also allows couples to choose the clinics closest to home, without having to travel long distances, whilst being able to count on the same level of assistance of the larger centers”.
What are the objectives of the MAP network?
The aim of the project is to offer a unique and shared work tool for all categories of operators involved in the process, such as administrators, nurses, biologists and doctors, to allow them to have their own view of the information of interest, by configuring suitable dashboards.
“The solution – explains Mariangela Alcaro, Project Manager for Engineering of the MAP Network project – is designed as a web application with a graphical interface that represents data in a clear and intuitive way and that can be viewed on different mobile devices thanks to its responsive design”.
What does networking actually mean?
“To give an example – continues Professor Mencaglia – let’s imagine a couple living in Bibbiena. From the very beginning of their diagnostic path, they can contact the center nearest to their home, which shares with us, through a shared medical file, all the useful data for monitoring, up to the egg cell removal, which usually takes place in the MAP center in Cortona. This means the couple does not need to travel every time, but only for the final, surgical moment, when the same operator who followed the couple for the whole path will be present. Thanks to the platform, we have data from the entire MAP network at our disposal, with up-to-date work plans and the possibility of making reservations thanks to integration with the single regional booking system”.
What are the benefits of the MAP project?
“Sharing the path within the network – explains Luca Mencaglia – allows us not only to support the people who benefit from MAP, but also to motivate all the operators who work in the peripheral centers, enabling them to work effectively and professionally. In addition to this, through the platform we will be able to dialogue and exchange data with some control institutions, such as the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Higher Institute of Health) and the National Transplant Center”.
Another advantage is viewing the results and reports of the numerous diagnostic tests, useful for monitoring the treatment, without the need to enter data manually, thus reducing the risk of compilation errors.
“Couples having treatment – continues Mencaglia – are spared the need to communicate the results of examinations, to personally deliver reports or any other documentation necessary for the treatment as they can count on an integrated system throughout the network”.
“The platform – adds Matteo Petracca of Engineering – simplifies the work by ensuring greater fluidity and transparency at every stage of the work process, with an immediate check on the consistency and appropriateness of the information, with the possibility of recording and analyzing any cause-effect links and of understanding, for example, the reasons why a therapy is successful or not on a patient, in relation to the infertility causes of both components of the couple, to on-going diseases, demographic characteristics, etc.. All with due regard to privacy of course”.
What will future developments be?
“The project has great potential – comments Mencaglia – in particular as regards the increased possibility of understanding the reasons for infertility, thanks also to Machine Learning. An analysis of the data collected will help research and give us indications for improving MAP operations, as well as provide qualitative indicators of the work we are carrying out in order to improve.”.