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      Telehealth in Latin America: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Face of COVID-19

      research-article
      , MPH 1 , , , ScD, MPH 2 , , MBA 3
      Telehealth and Medicine Today
      Partners in Digital Health
      COVID-19, Latin America, Pandemic, Technology, Telehealth

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          Abstract

          The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use and importance of telehealth and telemedicine globally. In industrialized countries, stay-at-home measures and changes to government regulations regarding telehealth resulted in an over 100-fold increase in demand within weeks. The COVID-19 has raged across Latin America for most of 2020, with associated high rates of illness and death. The objective of this article is to review some of the successes and challenges of telehealth in Latin America and highlight opportunities for action within the context of COVID-19.

          We identify several positive trends in telehealth adoption across the region as well as some promising case studies on the use of telehealth platforms for delivering care when needed. We also identify barriers that have limited the scale of telehealth in Latin America during the current phase of the pandemic. Limiting factors include inadequacies in long-term evolution telecommunication availability and access to digital trainings for healthcare workers. In addition, political commitment, legislation, and regulation have yet to catch up with demand.

          Finally, we present opportunities to more effectively scale these technologies, across Latin America for the current emergency, as well as reducing or controlling healthcare costs, addressing health disparities, and providing improved health care, especially in rural areas.

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          Most cited references8

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          Personalized Telehealth in the Future: A Global Research Agenda

          As telehealth plays an even greater role in global health care delivery, it will be increasingly important to develop a strong evidence base of successful, innovative telehealth solutions that can lead to scalable and sustainable telehealth programs. This paper has two aims: (1) to describe the challenges of promoting telehealth implementation to advance adoption and (2) to present a global research agenda for personalized telehealth within chronic disease management. Using evidence from the United States and the European Union, this paper provides a global overview of the current state of telehealth services and benefits, presents fundamental principles that must be addressed to advance the status quo, and provides a framework for current and future research initiatives within telehealth for personalized care, treatment, and prevention. A broad, multinational research agenda can provide a uniform framework for identifying and rapidly replicating best practices, while concurrently fostering global collaboration in the development and rigorous testing of new and emerging telehealth technologies. In this paper, the members of the Transatlantic Telehealth Research Network offer a 12-point research agenda for future telehealth applications within chronic disease management.
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            Building Capacity and Training for Digital Health: Challenges and Opportunities in Latin America

            Tackling global health challenges demands the appropriate use of available technologies. Although digital health could significantly improve health care access, use, quality, and outcomes, realizing this possibility requires personnel trained in digital health. There is growing evidence of the benefits of digital health for improving the performance of health systems and outcomes in developed countries. However, significant gaps remain in resource-constrained settings. Technological and socio-cultural disparities between different regions or between provinces within the same country are prevalent. Rural areas, where the promise and need are highest, are particularly deprived. In Latin America, there is an unmet need for training and building the capacity of professionals in digital health. This viewpoint paper aims to present a selection of experiences in building digital health capacity in Latin America to illustrate a series of challenges and opportunities for strengthening digital health training programs in resource-constrained environments. These describe how a successful digital health ecosystem for Latin America requires culturally relevant and collaborative research and training programs in digital health. These programs should be responsive to the needs of all relevant regional stakeholders, including government agencies, non–governmental organizations, industry, academic or research entities, professional societies, and communities. This paper highlights the role that collaborative partnerships can play in sharing resources, experiences, and lessons learned between countries to optimize training and research opportunities in Latin America.
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              Health System Approaches Are Needed To Expand Telemedicine Use Across Nine Latin American Nations

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                TMT
                Telehealth and Medicine Today
                Partners in Digital Health
                2471-6960
                18 January 2021
                2021
                : 6
                : 10.30953/tmt.v6.238
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Senior Consultant, Deloitte, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
                [2 ]CEO & Founder at Updraft Health Innovation Advisors, Atlanta, George, USA
                [3 ]International Benefits Consultant
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: William Pierce, ( bipierce@ 123456deloitte.com )
                Article
                238
                10.30953/tmt.v6.238
                3139a370-b0e4-4216-a0e2-dfb440326edf
                © 2021 William Pierce

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, adapt, enhance this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial.

                History
                Categories
                Perspective, Opinion, and Interview

                Social & Information networks,General medicine,General life sciences,Health & Social care,Public health,Hardware architecture
                Telehealth,Latin America,Technology,Pandemic,COVID-19

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