The serious health crisis triggered by the new coronavirus has forever changed the way we live. Among the various strategies aimed at tackling the pandemic, telehealth played a prominent role. This modality ends up reducing the risk of spreading the disease due to its ability to reduce the need for displacement and, consequently, reduce the circulation of people.
Telehealth also allows the management of cases of covid-19, such as the care of patients with chronic conditions who had to limit access to face-to-face medical consultations. The excellent results resulting from telehealth encourage and accelerate the discussion about the modernization of the regulations in force in our post-pandemic country.
To guarantee success in this digital transformation, health requires leaders committed to this new scenario. It is not always technology that prevents digital transformation in health, but culture. Health service users also have new expectations and challenges for the development of telehealth. Investing in knowing and improving the journey of the user, doctor and patient, and reinventing a series of processes will be the way to guarantee this digital transformation.
Promoting engagement strategies for patients, professionals and health managers to adhere to these digital solutions is fundamental. The consolidation of digital health in the country is also a strategy to strengthen the Unified Health System (SUS). Telehealth allows better organization and increases access to health, since it can remove regional barriers.
Advantages of digital service
Once integrated into the health system, telehealth will allow better patient management, improving traffic and the organization of information between care services, allowing for greater continuity of people-centered care and shaping patients’ navigation through health services.
To move forward, it is necessary to work on collaborative platforms and foster public-private partnerships. In this context, a successful experience is the Regula Mais Brasil project, which is part of the Institutional Development Support Program of the Unified Health System (PROADI-SUS). This project, carried out by the Hospital Sírio-Libanês for the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the other hospitals that are members of PROADI-SUS, has supported SUS users from different locations.
The project helps in the conference of patients who seek UBS for primary care. From a single regulatory center, health professionals at primary care centers can check with the project specialists the necessary follow-up for each patient, with the recommendation or not of a consultation with a specialist. This follow-up allows for faster assistance to patients who seek out health centers.
In addition, it allows localities to incorporate good practices related to digital health for better decision-making, especially by doctors working in Basic Health Units (UBSs).
Teleconsultation was incorporated as part of the Regula Mais Brasil project since the beginning of the pandemic, becoming strategic in expanding patient access to the services of medical specialists. Patients who were waiting for an appointment in several medical specialties in regulatory systems were able to opt for digital care.
In addition to the project developing an operation for digital meetings, the methodology promoted greater transparency in the patient’s navigation process within the services provided by public health and has had an excellent evaluation of the user experience. Patients have highlighted the ease and convenience of the new experience, without prejudice to the doctor-patient relationship.
Examples like this show how we can change public health in Brazil through the implementation of methodologies that are based on technology platforms. The pandemic opened these doors and now we need to take the opportunity to create concrete improvements for SUS.
Dr. Luiz Fernando Reis, biweekly columnist at TecMundo, is director of Teaching and Research at Hospital Sírio-Libanês, an area responsible for the generation, application and dissemination of knowledge that brings value to Brazilian society and promotes better health care practice. Graduated in Biochemistry from the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF), in Minas Gerais, Luiz holds a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the New York University School of Medicine (United States) and a post-doctorate in Molecular Biology from the University of Zurich (Switzerland) .
This text was produced in partnership with Sabrina Dalbosco Gadenz, Portfolio Manager of Digital Projects of the Social Commitment Directorate of Hospital Sírio-Libanês