Challenges and opportunities for telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic: ideas on spaces and initiatives in the Brazilian context

Rosângela Caetano Angélica Baptista Silva Ana Cristina Carneiro Menezes Guedes Carla Cardi Nepomuceno de Paiva Gizele da Rocha Ribeiro Daniela Lacerda Santos Rondineli Mendes da Silva About the authors

Abstract:

COVID-19 has created enormous challenges for health systems worldwide, with the rapidly growing number of deaths and critical patients with pneumonia requiring ventilatory support. Alternative methods to control the spread of the disease such as social isolation, extreme quarantine measures, and contact tracing have been used around the world. However, these measures may not be totally effective to fight COVID-19, in step with the necessary national preparations to meet the new patient care demands. A wide range of digital technologies can be used to enhance these public health strategies, and the pandemic has sparked increasing use of telehealth. This field has grown considerably in Brazil in recent years. Still, despite the intense proliferation of recommendations and rules, until the current pandemic the country still lacked a fully consolidated regulatory framework. The emergence of COVID-19 marks a key moment in the expansion of applications and use of telehealth for improving the health system’s response to the current crisis. The article discusses telehealth’s contribution to the fight against COVID-19 and the recent initiatives triggered in Brazil as opportunities for the consolidation of telemedicine and improvement of the Brazilian Unified National Health System. The authors conclude that telehealth offers capabilities for remote screening, care and treatment, and assists monitoring, surveillance, detection, prevention, and mitigation of the impacts on healthcare indirectly related to COVID-19. The initiatives triggered in this process can reshape the future space of telemedicine in health services in the territory.

Keywords:
COVID-19; Coronavirus; Telemedicine; Pandemics; Emergencies

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