WhatsApp and the “new” model for physician-patient communication

The digital revolution is radically changing the way physicians and patients communicate, as medical information and data are increasingly being transmitted through mobile apps and real time chats or by text messages and emails. This new phenomenon, which is having a profound effect on interactions within the healthcare sector, provides new opportunities, but also involves certain risks. At Kedrion, where we have always placed patients at the center of all we do, we believe that improving their quality of life today also means reflecting on how these changes impact them.

A round table forum dedicated to these issues and entitled “WhatsApp Medicine – The new model for physician-patient communication: risks and opportunities”, was held on November 23 in Bologna, Italy, at the 42nd National Congress of the Italian Society of Organ and Tissue Transplants (SITO). This event, made possible thanks to an unconditional grant from Kedrion, was organized in collaboration with Epateam, a healthcare networking project for liver transplant patients founded in Italy in 2017.


How can WhatsApp change the way doctors and their patients communicate? What opportunities does it provide and what are the risks in respect of patient privacy and physician compliance with ethical standards? How can the flow of information between clinical specialists and those in need of treatment be regulated? These were the questions at the center of a multidisciplinary debate, between experts from various sectors – legal, medical-scientific and journalistic – and a patients spokesperson, on a topic that has yet to be fully addressed in Italy.

Lawyer Giovanna Marzo, Ivan Gardini – president of Epac Onlus (a non-profit liver transplant patient organization) – journalist Eugenia Romanelli, hepatologist Stefano Fagiuoli and Umberto Cillo, surgeon and SITO president, debated the main critical issues of this phenomenon, which is giving rise to increasingly rapid and significant changes in personal interactions taking place in the healthcare sector.


Lucio Caccamo, who introduced the round table discussion, underlined how quickly and relentlessly these changes are taking place.  Surgeon Dr. Caccamo, Epateam Faculty coordinator, used the liver transplantation multimedia site Epateam.org’s experience to illustrate the digital evolution underway in promotional and informative medical communication.

The debate highlighted the need to include hospitals and healthcare agencies in this discussion. All the speakers agreed that, if we are talking about rules and procedures, and both a physician’s “charter of responsibilities” and a patient’s “charter of rights”, then the full involvement of the bureaucratic-administrative machine is required.  

This workshop was also live streamed on Epateam’s Facebook page: more than 2000 users joined in and over half a thousand interactions (shares, likes etc.) were collected.

For more information please contact: [email protected]
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