Increased Access to Care through Telemedicine in Albania: An Analysis of 2,724 Patients

Telemed J E Health. 2020 Feb;26(2):164-175. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2018.0338. Epub 2019 Mar 20.


Introduction: The Integrated Telemedicine and e-Health program (ITeHP) of Albania, built by the International Virtual e-Hospital Foundation (IVeH), has improved access to high-quality health care, particularly in high demanding specialty disciplines. We aimed to test the hypothesis that the majority of patients in remote and regional hospitals can be managed using telemedicine and will prevent unnecessary transfers. Methods: A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data of patients seen between January 2014 and September 2018 was conducted. Patient demographics, type of teleconsultation modality used, and patient disposition were analyzed. The comparison of continuous data was performed with t-test or Mann-Whitney test. The categorical data were tested with chi-squared test and analysis of variance. Results: There were 2,842 patients seen in all the clinical disciplines during the study period. We excluded tele-autism and incomplete data. There were 2,724 records eligible for study. The most frequent consulting clinical programs (82.9%) were teleradiology (39.0%), teleneurotrauma (27.2%), and teletestroke (16.7%). The majority of patients (77.9%) were kept at regional centers and did not require transfer (p < 0.001) to a tertiary center. Of those transferred, 70.3% were male (p < 0.001), of which 81.6% were for transferred due to neurotrauma. Conclusion: The telemedicine program in Albania has improved access to specialized care in a number of specialty clinical disciplines, particularly in potentially life-threatening and time-sensitive conditions such as neurotrauma. Almost 80% of patients did not require transfer to tertiary centers and were kept for further treatment at the regional centers.

Keywords: international health; telehealth; telemedicine; trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Albania
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Remote Consultation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine*