How can digital health help us achieve UHC?

How can digital health help us achieve UHC?



in 2015 UN member-states committed to achieving universal health coverage by 2030 if this ambitious goal is achieved it'll mean that in around 10 years time people all over the world regardless of where they live will be able to access quality health care without suffering financial hardship given that half of the world's population still lacks essential health services this might seem near on impossible the barriers are particularly significant for underserved communities where a lack of medicines equipment and staff can be an issue Digital health solutions are helping to tackle these challenges but what exactly does that look like in practice well essentially it's the use of digital mobile and wireless technologies to help achieve those critical health objectives think mobile health ie health and tele health which involve the use of mobile devices electronic processes and telecommunication all to improve health care then there's blockchain there is Big Data and artificial intelligence as well as the internet of medical things that all might sound really complicated but it translates into life-saving interventions like the live-streaming of ultrasound exams which allow doctors and nurses working in different locations to collaborate and share health data and medical advice or self-help apps like pregnancy Plus which helps pregnant women and their partners navigate that rollercoaster of events feelings and decisions during pregnancy thanks to such innovations the role of digital health especially in underserved populations is increasingly being recognized by patients health workers and that wider global health community in fact the Philips 2019 future health index report found that healthcare professionals experiences had been positively impacted over the last five years by the increased data that digital tools are providing similarly patients would access to their own health data that the quality of care available to them was much higher than those who didn't have the access and in terms of that wider global health community well currently 58 percent of whio member states have any health strategy and then 87 percent have at least one national mobile health initiative it's perhaps not the countries that you'd expect that are buying into such tools Phillips's research found that emerging countries such as China Saudi Arabia and in some cases India and Russia well they're leapfrogging more developed countries when it comes to the adoption and use of new technologies in 2018 all whu-oh member states adopted a resolution calling for a global strategy on digital health to support national efforts to achieving UHD the global digital health strategy will be discussed at the World Health Assembly in 2020 then there's the declaration of Astana also signed in 2018 by heads of state and government it identifies digital and other technologies as the key drivers to deliver on the promise of affordable quality primary care for while we could get carried away it's important to recognize that digital health is not a blanket solution to all global health challenges we need to be realistic about its applications and its limitations with that in mind whu-oh has released a set of digital health guidelines to help the sector acknowledge exactly when digital health technology could help for example they recommend digital tools to help prevent medicine stock outs but only in settings where supply chain management systems are able to respond to the problem in a timely manner or in the case of telemedicine they recommend that initiatives should complement rather than replace that face-to-face healthcare service digital health can also only be rolled out in an enabling environments according to whu-oh and the international telecommunication union that means the presence of seven different factors that includes leadership and governance strategy and investment services and applications standards and interoperability infrastructure legislation policy and compliance and a workforce and of course as with most global challenges no one can do it alone success in establishing a long-term scalable digital health interventions depends on cross-sectoral collaboration some coalition's partnerships and initiatives are already in place and they focus on things like improving the availability of data or building eHealth leadership but there could always be more digital health on its own will not be a solution to achieving UHC by 2013 but it is propelling us forward it's breaking down those barriers to healthcare access it's enhancing the information and it's boosting the quality of care that people are able to receive when used alongside other approaches as a tool for strengthening existing health systems it plays an even more significant role in getting us to UHD and ensuring that no one is left behind however you look at that UHC is only going to be a reality if digital health is a part of the plan to what extent can digital health help us achieve UHC let us know by leaving your comment below

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