Directing Council Approves eHealth Strategy and Plan of Action

The 51st Directing Council today approved the eHealth Strategy and Action Plan, which seeks to improve access to and quality of health services through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Among other things, these technologies are expected to increase efficiency in the use of time and resources and improve inputs for complex decision-making, including for patient diagnosis and treatment.

PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses said the new strategy would help consolidate regional eHealth initiatives, prevent duplication of efforts, and ensure optimal use of human and financial resources. She said the strategy had been developed in consultation with institutions including the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA), and the Organization of American States (OAS).

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Mirta Roses, reinforced the role of this strategy to consolidate regional initiatives so as to avoid duplication and ensure value for human and financial resources. He referred specifically to the integration for the development of the strategy of institutions such as ECLAC, SELA and the Organization of American States (OAS).

PAHO’s Area Manager for Knowledge Management and Communication, Marcelo D’Agostino, said it was important to develop new norms and standards to ensure interoperability and to facilitate information exchange at the national and international levels. He also said eHealth technologies allow doctors and patients to relate in new ways. “We need to work with other agencies and institutions responsible for technological infrastructure to ensure access” to information and knowledge technologies, he added.

Delegations from 18 countries expressed their support for the strategy and commented on the current situation in the region.

The new eHealth strategy will promote, among others, the use of: electronic medical records (or electronic health records); teleHealth, which involves the delivery of health services using ICTs, specifically where geographical distance presents a barrier to health care; mHealth, which employs mobile devices such as cellular phones and wireless patient-monitoring devices for medical purposes; eLearning, to increase access to distance education; continuing education for health professionals utilizing ICTs; and interoperability and standardization, which promotes compatibility between different technologies and the use of common eHealth standards.

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