Making the COVID-19 pandemic a driver for digital health: the Brazilian strategies

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JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2021 Jun 7. doi: 10.2196/28643. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 outbreak exposed several problems faced by health systems worldwide, especially concerning generation and sharing health data quickly and safely. However, this pandemic scenario also facilitates the rapid implementation and monitoring of technologies in the health field. In view of the occurrence of the public calamity state caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Brazil, the Department of Informatics from the Brazilian Unified Health System created a contingency plan. This paper aims to report the Brazilian digital health strategies and the first results obtained during the fight against COVID-19. Conecte SUS, a platform created to store all the health data of an individual throughout their life, is the center point of the Brazilian digital strategy. Access can be made through an application by the patient and the health professionals involved in the case. Health data sharing became possible due to the creation of the National Health Data Network (RNDS). A mobile application was developed to guide citizens about the need or not to go to a health facility and assist in disseminating official news about the virus. The mobile application is also able to alert the user if they had contact with someone infected. The official numbers of cases and beds available in hospitals are updated and published daily on a website containing interactive graphs. These data are obtained due to creating an online notification system that uses RNDS to share information about the cases. Pre-clinical care through telemedicine has become essential to prevent the overload in health facilities. The exchange of experiences between medical teams from great centers and small hospitals was possible using telehealth. Brazil took a giant step towards digital health, creating and implementing important initiatives, which do not yet cover the entire health system. It is expected that, in the near future, the sharing of health data kept up and authorized by the patient will become a reality. The intention is to obtain a better clinical outcome, cost reduction, and faster and better services in the public health network.

PMID:34101613 | DOI:10.2196/28643