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News article2 February 2024Directorate-General for Communication5 min read

Remote Possibilities: Telemedical Diagnostics in Rural Croatia

NextGenerationEU is setting the blueprint for greener, more sustainable and more resilient economies and societies. EU countries are leveraging its funding to modernise and transform anything from transport infrastructure and social housing to digitised public services. Among the cornerstones of the Recovery and Resilience Framework (RRF) is the improvement of health, social and institutional resilience, as well as social and territorial inclusion. All such elements are encompassed in the Telecordis telemedical project undertaken in Croatia’s Koprivnica-Križevci County. We spoke to local beneficiaries Andrea Horvat and Mirjana Hanžeković, who told us more about the project.

Andrea Horvat works as a nurse at the Koprivnica-Križevci County Healthcare Centre. She sat down with us to share her insights on the Telecordis project, which has seen a new telemedical services centre set up at the local primary care facility. Funded through Croatia’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) – with an investment value of approximately €690,000 – it enables patients from local or remote areas to avail of cardiology and pulmonology diagnostic testing more quickly and easily. For Andrea, it’s been a godsend, as it has vastly improved the availability of vital medical services in a region that seriously lacked them.

Previously, patients living with chronic conditions or vascular diseases had to travel to general hospitals much further afield to attend medical appointments and receive cardiological examinations, with waiting lists lasting up to five months or more. Since it opened in July 2023, the Telecordis telemedical centre has reduced wait times to an average of three weeks. The procurement of specialist medical and computer equipment has made essential cardiological services possible nearby, from EKG holter monitoring and blood pressure holter monitoring, to spirometry and 12-channel EKG. Medical exams can now be conducted by local practitioners, with patient data then sent through the Telecordis system, which compiles post-exam diagnostic results.

Speaking to us about the Telecordis project, Andrea was eager to share her thoughts:

Are you happy with how the project has turned out?

AH: I am very happy with how things have turned out. Cardiology patients living in remote areas can now receive faster, more efficient diagnoses, without having to visit the general hospital in the city of Koprivnica. For rural inhabitants, travelling for medical examinations was a serious burden, especially for the elderly and less mobile. In some cases, when patients are suffering from heart and vascular diseases, the doctor needs to conduct medical exams every six months or schedule regular appointments to monitor a patient’s progress with regard to a specific drug. For those living in remote locations, frequently travelling back and forth was a significant logistical challenge. The telemedical centre helps alleviate this pressure.

Aside from being closer to patients, what other advantages does the centre offer?

AH: Apart from the convenience and shorter waiting lists for appointments, the telemedical centre has expedited the diagnostic process in general. Patients receive their diagnoses in a more timely manner. While it is the doctor’s responsibility to interpret medical findings, as a nurse, I am often responsible for verifying them. If I determine that a patient needs urgent care, we must act fast so they can receive necessary medical attention. Thanks to the efficiency that local telemedical services have provided, patients are now exposed to less risk, as we can identify issues more quickly and react accordingly. This has helped us avoid the worst on more than one occasion.

“Thanks to the efficiency that local telemedical services have provided, patients are now exposed to less risk.”

– Andrea Horvat, Nurse at the Koprivnica-Križevci County Healthcare Centre

Mirjana Hanžeković is Director of the Koprivnica-Križevci County Healthcare Centre where Andrea works. She too is highly impressed with the results of the new Telecordis telemedical centre. She shares Andrea’s views about opening up core medical services to those in rural communities, stressing that the efficiencies gained have saved patients’ lives.

We sat down with her to glean some more insight into the project’s major benefits:

How has the project changed things for local healthcare?

MH: It’s been very important for all patients in the region who suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Heart and vascular diseases account for about 45% of all deaths in Croatia. Cardiology services are less accessible in continental areas like Križevci and Đurđevac, so the mortality rate there is higher. I believe telemedical services like those recently introduced at our healthcare centre could positively impact these figures. Until recently, even for simple medical exams – such as EKG holter or blood pressure holter monitoring – patients have had to travel to the nearest city. These journeys could stretch up to 60 kilometres in one direction, all at the patient’s expense; and this was before any findings or results would come in. Continuous improvement is essential in medicine, be it in terms of training, equipment or otherwise. This is how we provide our patients with the best possible healthcare. The Telecordis telemedical services centre is a prime example of this, as it brings modern diagnostic technology to an area that previously lacked it.

Are you proud of the project?

MH: If I had to single out one thing that brings me great pride with this project, I would highlight that it has saved multiple lives. The new centre’s equipment and services have allowed us to perform necessary medical examinations more quickly, in a conveniently reachable local setting. As a result, patients in potentially life-threatening situations have been able to receive life-saving medical assistance. Just recently, we identified a blood vessel blockage in a young patient, who urgently needed a stent to prevent a serious risk of heart attack. The new centre meant we could identify the blockage and react quickly, ensuring he got the life-saving procedure on time. To be able to provide such services locally is a source of pride as it means we can care for as many patients as possible, regardless of where they live.

“If I had to single out one thing that brings me great pride with this project, I would highlight that it has saved multiple lives.”

– Mirjana Hanžeković, Director of the Koprivnica-Križevci County Healthcare Centre

Andrea and Mirjana’s experience is testament to the importance of adequate medical and institutional resilience, as well as genuine social and territorial inclusion. When vital resources are made available, local communities can benefit hugely, with a tangible impact on citizens’ daily lives. The Telecordis project is one of many funded through Croatia’s RRP under NextGenerationEU, with each one corresponding to targeted national focus areas and specific regional needs. In the case of the Koprivnica-Križevci County Healthcare Centre, the allocation of such resources has proven it can ensure a more equitable approach to essential service provision and better equip remote areas to face current and future challenges.


Publication date
2 February 2024
Directorate-General for Communication
  • Croatia