Is the Digital Divide an Obstacle to e-Health? An Analysis of the Situation in Europe and in Italy

M.F Romano*, M.V. Sardella, F. Alboni, L. Russo, R. Mariotti, I. Nicastro, V. Bareltta, V. Di Bello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The digital divide affecting elderly patients may compromise the diffusion of telemedicine systems for this age segment. It might be that the difficulties in the passage from trials to the effective distribution of telemedicine systems are also due to the awareness of a personal digital divide in the target population.The analysis aims to estimate the number of people over the age of 50 years with potential cardiovascular problems able to access the Web. It made use of data from several sources (the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica Multiscopo Survey). Furthermore, with regard to Italy, the estimates obtained from official data were compared with those obtained in a survey investigating heart failure patients in Tuscany.In 2011, the percentage of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and with Web access was 24% in Europe, with significant differences by country (ranging from 53% in Switzerland to below 20% in Italy, Spain, and Portugal). In Italy, however, the proportion of people with Web access increased from 2007 to 2011, and the survey in Tuscany showed that elderly people with limited information and communications technology skills overcame challenges and learned how to connect to the Web because they started to appreciate new technologies.The opportunity to use the Internet to monitor patients with chronic disease can serve as a challenge to reduce the digital divide gap and, furthermore, to increase their social and technological inclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-35
JournalTelemedicine and E-health
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2015


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