WHO Issues Guidance on Digital Health Tools

April 25, 2019 | Electronic Health Records | Legislation and Public Policy | Medical Devices and Wearables | Telehealth

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued its first-ever recommendations on how digital health interventions may be used to improve health systems and patient care. Digital communication technologies covered by the report include apps, SMS text messages, and interactive voice response, and may involve the use of mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers.

The guidance includes recommendations on the use of digital tools for the following uses, among others: birth and death notifications; patient-to-provider or provider-to-provider telemedicine; targeted communications to patients; digital tracking of patients’ health status and services; decision support for health workers making diagnoses and treatment decisions; and provision of training and education content to health professionals.

Overall, WHO encourages the increased use of digital tools in healthcare. However, it noted that “digital health interventions should complement and enhance health system functions through mechanisms such as accelerated exchange of information, but will not replace the fundamental components needed by health systems such as the health workforce, financing, leadership and governance, and access to essential medicines.” WHO is currently developing a global digital health strategy that it expects to release next year.

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