Investigating the potential of e-health technology in cities
The WHO defines E-Health as “the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health”*. In 2012, we set up a Task Force to investigate the potential of e-health technology in cities. Our Task Force assessed the economic, social and clinical impacts of using e-health technology in an underserved urban area.
We conducted our pilot project in Santa Marta, a favela in the hills of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We equipped the local health clinic with an ‘e-health backpack’ designed to travel easily through the steep terrain, allowing nurses to provide primary care to elderly patients in their homes. We measured the impact of the use of the backpack on the community, the health care workers, and the public healthcare system. Our study revealed the potential of e-health to transform healthcare in emerging cities by leapfrogging the standard, often barebones facilities available to the urban poor.
Use of the e-health backpack led to:
- Major economic savings for the public healthcare system
- Increased efficiency for healthcare workers
- Increased satisfaction among patients and health professionals