We embrace technology because it allows us to do things better and easier, faster and cheaper. To be more productive and have more free time to do other activities. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) do not appear as a priority in the Health Sector Program 2020-2024 of the Fourth Transformation, because it does not contemplate its intensive and productive use to guarantee universal access to health.
The Program says that a Health Intelligence Center to increase human and infrastructure capacity in the institutions that make up the National Health System (SNS). For care that allows access to specialty consultation, hospitalization and surgery, a “new model of care is contemplated through the implementation of information technologies.”
It seeks to modernize the information and communication system to guarantee reliable and timely information that facilitates public policy decisions and anticipates the needs of the population. The specific action is consolidate the evaluation and management of ICT in health to improve the capacity and quality of services, digitization of records and inter-institutional interoperability between the different levels of care in the SNS.
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To strengthen the promotion and research on healthy habits and lifestyles, the Program proposes the use of interactive and mobile technologies to inform, sensitize and guide responsible decisions of the population regarding their habits, healthy lifestyle and formal and informal care in mental health and addictions.
Public health institutions in Mexico they don’t use technology to facilitate paperwork, procedures and inquiries. With this they maintain a system of authoritarian control over the right holders. In 2009, the IMSS won the award for more cumbersome and useless procedure. Waiting time for consultation in 2016 was 71 minutes compared to 58 minutes in 2012, according to the Midway National Health and Nutrition Survey 2016 that has not been done again.
In 2004 the National Evaluation Center for Technological Excellence in health (Cenetec) that, among other attributions, leads the application, adoption and use of telehealth services within the SNS.
The Mexicans are interested in health issues. In 2019, 46% of Internet users accessed health sites, 30 million users (Comscore), a growth of 22 percentage points with compared to 2013 (24.4%). 59% were women and 62% did so through a mobile device. The IMSS portal was the most consulted with five million monthly visitors, half of them through the smartphone a tablet. Psychology, physical care, personal aesthetics, diet and nutrition are some areas that interest netizens.
Since 2005 the World Health Assembly, in its resolution WHA58.28 on e-health, urged Member States to develop a long-term strategic plan to conceive and implement e-health services; to develop infrastructures to apply ICT to health; for vulnerable groups to enjoy e-health services adapted to their needs, and to promote the universal, equitable and affordable enjoyment of the benefits of telehealth.
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The United Nations General Assembly has recognized advances in the provision of health care thanks to technology, expanding to more people access to services and data that were previously unattainable or unaffordable.
According to him Draft global strategy on digital health 2020-2024 of the World Health Organization (WHO), “there is a growing consensus in the global health community that the strategic and innovative use of digital technologies will be a essential facilitating factor to ensure that one billion more people benefit from universal health coverage and are better protected against health emergencies. “
The digital transformation of health meets strong resistance because it gives people freedom and greater control about your health. Doctors do not always explain ailments. The calligraphy of doctors is famous for being incomprehensible. Medical records are believed to be the property of institutions when the information contained in them belongs to patients. Bureaucrats prefer difficult and face-to-face procedures because that way “They retain control” and corruption is encouraged.
A study of PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute estimated that in the United States due to inefficiency and waste more than half of healthcare spending each year.
Digital health is disruptive because institutions and doctors lose the information monopoly. Digital health devices allow data on heart rate, moods, sleep, menstrual cycles, physical activity, blood oxygenation and can detect and prevent diseases. There are smart watches with electrocardiograms installed and they warn about falls in older adults.
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Digital health does not replace the doctor nor does it replace the face-to-face auscultation that you must perform to make an accurate diagnosis. But it does allow people have access to services through mobile platforms.
It is not that the data and devices are totally accurate, reliable or replace the health specialist, but for the first time we can know more about our health than public institutions. This is warned by the companies in the sector, which is why they see a business opportunity in the increasingly deteriorating health of the population. Private clinics and laboratories store and make better use of our data. They send the clinical results to email and we have to train at the IMSS.
Innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Blockchain and Robotics have the ability to improve medical diagnosis, data-driven treatment decisions and autoatención. They also generate metrics for the design of public policies. Those who became infected with COVID-19 could receive adequate monitoring and treatment thanks to information systems. Of course, telehealth risks are data theft, hacking and cyber attacks.
When an institution does not use technology to make people’s lives easier, it takes away opportunities, quality of life, time, resources and affects their dignity. In his book Decent society, the philosopher Avishai Margalit states that “Decent societies do not humiliate their members. Respect for oneself is such when the individual makes others, including governments and institutions, respect him for what he is: a person ”. ICTs can help health… also institutions so that they do not humiliate the inhabitants.
The author of this text is president of the Mexican Association for the Right to Information (Amedi)