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International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications
Volume 2012, Article ID 861860, 7 pages
Research Article

Web-Based Specialist Support for Spinal Cord Injury Person’s Care: Lessons Learned

1Medical Informatics, Telemedicine and eHealth Laboratory, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Udine, Via delle Scienze 206, 33100 Udine, Italy
2Spinal Unit, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Institute, 33100 Udine, Italy

Received 16 May 2012; Revised 6 July 2012; Accepted 8 July 2012

Academic Editor: E. A. Krupinski

Copyright © 2012 Vincenzo Della Mea et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Persons with disability from spinal cord injury (SCI) are subject to high risk of pathological events and need a regular followup even after discharge from the rehabilitation hospital. To help in followup, we developed a web portal for providing online specialist as well as GP support to SCI persons. After a feasibility study with 13 subjects, the portal has been introduced in the regional healthcare network in order to make it compliant with current legal regulations on data protection, including smartcard authentication. Although a number of training courses have been made to introduce SCI persons to portal use (up to 50 users), the number of accesses remained very low. Reasons for that have been investigated by means of a questionnaire submitted to the initial feasibility study subjects and included the still easier use of telephone versus our web-based smartcard-authenticated portal, in particular, because online communications are still perceived as an unusual way of interacting with the doctor. To summarize, the overall project has been appreciated by the users, but when it is time to ask for help to, the specialist, it is still much easier to make a phone call.