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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 90-91

Digital interventions to strengthen the health sector: World Health Organization


1 Vice-Principal Curriculum, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Medical Research Unit, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet Taluk, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication23-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet Taluk, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/digm.digm_12_19

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Digital interventions to strengthen the health sector: World Health Organization. Digit Med 2019;5:90-1

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Digital interventions to strengthen the health sector: World Health Organization. Digit Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Oct 20];5:90-1. Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2019/5/2/90/267606



Dear Editor,

The scope and significance of digital health have gradually widened and it has been looked on as an innovative option to meet the challenging health needs.[1] In fact, the international stakeholders have reached the consensus that the employment of digital technology will be an important strategy toward the accomplishment of universal health coverage and other health-related sustainable development goals.[1],[2],[3] The need of the hour is that the local governments should explore all the options and thus look to identify those health problems, in which such technologies are appropriate and prioritize the same based on the magnitude of the problem.[3]

The biggest impact of digital intervention is on improving the maternal and child health outcomes through the promotion of antenatal care, improvement in the immunization coverage, and institutional deliveries.[2] At the same time, it has extended significant support in the decision-making by guiding health professionals and improving their communication across different geographical locations.[2],[3],[4] Further, its role in improving inventory control and transmission of the information in real time (especially during emergencies or disease outbreaks) is worth mentioning.[3],[5]

However, despite all these benefits, it is important to realize that these technologies are not ends in themselves, and it is a must that even the health system raises up to the occasion by responding in a time-bound manner.[3] Moreover, the utility of such interventions in the health sector is determined by the settings in which they are being used, available infrastructure and resources, and the familiarity with the technology.[1] This essentially demands that the health workers should be adequately trained and motivated to use the same and are supported by the required logistics/resources.[1],[3] Further, we have to ensure that people are assured that the information shared by them will be kept confidential, especially when information pertaining to sensitive issues is obtained.[3]

However, as it is quite obvious that the employment of digital health is resource intensive and thus to sustain them in the health sector and to ensure that they are merged with the health systems, we have to demonstrate long-term benefits when compared with the delivery of the conventional health care.[1],[3] It is high time that while employing digital technologies, we keep in our mind the inherent limitations, the challenges pertaining to the health system itself (viz. geographical inaccessibility, poor health-seeking behavior, and delay in provision of care due to any reasons), and thus work in a properly coordinated manner.[1],[2],[5]

To expand the reach of the digital health, the World Health Organization has come out with a set of recommendations encompassing the different areas in which the policy-makers can employ technology, with an aim to improve the health indices of the general population.[3] These include birth-death stock notifications, telemedicine (viz. between two health-care providers or between client and provider), targeted client communication, tracking of the health status of the beneficiaries and utilizing the information in the process of decision-making, and use of technology in conducting training of the health professionals.[3]

To conclude, the employment of digital technology in the field of health sector is bound to produce a major impact on the health-care delivery system and health status of the vulnerable population.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Mesko B. Health IT and digital health: The future of health technology is diverse. J Clin Transl Res 2018;3:431-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Adopting mobile technology to improve maternal care in rural and low-resource settings. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:266-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
3.
World Health Organization. WHO Guideline: Recommendations on Digital Interventions for Health System Strengthening. Geneva: WHO Press; 2019. p. 1-72.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Kirley K, Sachdev N. Digital health-supported lifestyle change programs to prevent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Spectr 2018;31:303-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Employing digital technology to strengthen public health services in African region. Niger J Gen Pract 2018;16:36-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
  [Full text]  




 

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