8 Principles for Digital Transformation of Public Health

The digitization of health services implies important cultural changes for both health personnel and the population in general. These eight guiding principles are aimed at guiding the countries of the Region of the Americas in the processes of digital health transformation. Their purpose is to support them in making informed decisions, formulating short and long-term goals, and developing solid and sustainable public policies, leaving no one behind.

Universal conectivityInitiatives to position the health sector in the era of digital interdependence must be channeled into solid and sustainable policies that achieve full understanding and consideration of its characteristics and that address the needs and challenges of both individuals and communities, as well as of service providers. The benefits of considering connectivity and bandwidth as a new social determinant of health must also be taken into account.

Digital goodsDigital public goods, to strengthen the health and well-being of the world\'s population, must include open source software, standards, algorithms, data, applications and content designed with the appropriate architecture and licensing. These attributes should allow scaling them in diverse populations and contexts, in addition to applying the appropriate local adaptations. Responsibility and sustainability will always prevail, thinking of a user-centered design, especially in vulnerable populations with special needs in terms of technology and digital literacy.

Inclusive digital healthLeaving no one behind in the digital age requires not only reaching the most vulnerable populations, but also those people and population groups that are not digitally literate. ICTs have the potential to reduce health inequalities, by allowing people to access information and digital tools for prevention and care at the right time and in the right format. Digital inclusion implies appropriate access, digital skills, and usability and navigability aspects in the development of technological solutions. All this should encourage inclusion, but without ceasing to respect the autonomy of people and populations who decide not to use digital services.

InteroperabilityInformation systems for health - timely and open access to properly disaggregated data, integration of national and local systems, digital health and ICT - facilitate effective identification, notification and analysis of cases and contacts, early search and detection of cases and the definition and monitoring of the population at risk, in a safe, interoperable and as personalized as possible way.

Derechos humanosEnsuring the protection of human rights within digital health requires a thorough review of legal instruments related to the health sector. Human dignity, in its individual and social dimension, must be one of the fundamental values ??of this process, as is the environment where life develops. To be fair and equitable, the regulatory framework must be free of any geographic, educational, cultural, political, religious or gender bias.

Artificial intelligenceGlobal cooperation in artificial intelligence implies understanding the individual and social dimension in a globalized and interconnected reality that belongs to the human condition. Such cooperation, as well as working in multisectoral and interdisciplinary networks, is vital when designing and adopting artificial intelligence solutions that promote equity, gender and cultural diversity approaches with safe, reliable and open algorithms.

 

Information securityAdopt regulatory instruments on the treatment and protection of sensitive health data, as well as international security guidelines and standards for patient-centered information systems. These systems must be implemented respecting health-related rights, in order to generate a “culture of safe and reliable data management”, understood as the balance between the need to access data and privacy.

Public health architecturePublic health architecture, in the era of digital interdependence, must be framed within the government\'s digital agenda. It must be transversal, to articulate the different aspects of governance and optimize strategic planning and resource management. It should be based on the use of norms and procedures in favor of multiple areas, not only the health sphere; This is the case of connectivity and bandwidth, which interchangeably influence health, education and all sectors of a modern society.

"We need to take a fresh look at public health. One that is much more holistic and inclusive, that considers new critical factors for the success of interventions, such as connectivity, bandwidth, interoperability, and artificial intelligence, among others. This new approach must also consider inequities in the digital era, to ensure that the digital divide doesn't widen the gaps and health inequities."
Dr. Carissa F. Etienne / PAHO Director

8 Guiding Principles for Digital Transformation of the Health Sector: A Call to Action in the Americas

The digitization of health services implies important cultural changes for both health personnel and the population in general. This guide presents eight guiding principles aimed at guiding the countries of the Region of the Americas in the processes of digital health transformation. Download publication from the PAHO Digital Library


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