Nowadays, it is mainly the first world countries that benefit from the innovations implemented in digital health. However, there are many other areas in the world that are overpopulated and have less developed health systems, which have seen rapid implementation of telemedicine solutions thanks to the use of new technologies.
To discuss current telemedicine in Latin America, on 14th and 15th October the Mobile World Centre held the RITMOS 2015 meeting, an international workshop organised by The Cluster Latin American Higher Education Collaboration in Telemedicine (CICUT), the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the Mobile World Capital Barcelona mHealth team which is made up of sector experts.
Dr. John D. Piette, professor of Health Behavior & Health Education and Internal Medicine, senior research scientist and Director of the centre for chronic diseases at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, was in charge of delivering the opening speech, “Supporting patients with chronic diseases via mHealth”.
The event was structured into various phases; in addition to presentations given in different formats, exchanges of views between different professionals that intervened were offered. In the plenary presentation, David Novillo, Coordinator of the digital health programme (eSalud) of the Pan American Organisation for Health (regional office of the World Health Organisation for the Americas) described the priority areas of Latin America where R&D projects in mHealth should be developed.
In the RITMOS Living Lab, and in the event’s second day, professionals from organisations such as the UOC, Doctors without Borders, Telefónica, the National University of Rosario (Argentina) and the University of Antioquia (Colombia) presented real solutions in mHealth which aim to optimise medical management in healthcare facilities.
A number of projects that are already in operation in various parts on Latin America and Spain were presented, for example:
– Tele-diagnostic station.
Guillermo Bill, from the National University of Rosario (Argentina), presented his portable telediagnostic station, which enables remote monitoring of patients in areas where health workers are scarce. The station enables contact with the patient via videoconferences, and the information collected is stored in the cloud. For practical reasons, there are several operating stations; one in the Antarctic, after an agreement with the Argentinean Air Forces was made, another in Haiti, and several scattered around by the country which are in the testing phase. The station is resistant to water, dust and shock, is transportable, and the briefcase that contains it can be transformed into a table/desk.
–Support App for vector-borne diseases.
Camilo Ospina, from Ubiquo Telemedicine and the University of Antioquía, presented the PecETVs project, a smart phone and tablet app developed by the department for tropical diseases. The users can submit queries with images of insects or bites (for example, in cases of suspected malaria of dengue), and up to two groups of experts from Medellin reference centres are responsible for giving quick responses.
–Information System for the telehomecare of users affected by anti-personnel mines and unexploded munitions.
Camilo Ospina was also responsible for presenting the TeleMAP app, which was designed to offer citizens information about mines in a predictive and proactive way. In Colombia, after decades of conflict, there are still thousands of anti-personnel mines buried that have caused, and continue to cause, much misery, even among civilians. This application also includes a teleassistance service for information on the mine detection procedure and the intervention protocol in case of an explosion.
– Remote Management of Patients.
In RITMO 2015, Luis F. Manzanero, from Telefónica, presented Saluspot, an interactive health community made up of medical professionals and users which aims to improve the wellbeing of the patient. Via the online platform, professionals from primary care centres can treat patients that suffer from chronic conditions, such as heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and hypertension. All of these are diseases which, according to Manzanero, represent three quarters of current health costs. In ValCrònic, the Valencian Health Agency and Telefónica’s programme, thanks to this solution, the hospitalisation of patients has decreased by 33% and primary care visits have decreased by 50%. Saluspot offers its service in Spanish and Portuguese; the users can ask questions and the medics reply in an average of 3 hours. Only private questions to doctors must be paid for and cost between 2 and 4 dollars. 75% of Saluspot’s traffic is mobile, and a similar percentage comes from Latin America. Currently, this solution receives 1 million visits a month.
-Interventional Therapeutic Analysis Platform (PLAINT©) for the pharmaceutical assessment and diagnosis for hypertension.
Juan Manuel Pérez, from the University of Manizales (Colombia), presented support software for health professionals. Currently, pharmaceutical prescriptions platforms are very slow and do not provide the professional with much help. However, PLAINT© needs just 60 seconds to enter the patients details and complete the health professional’s diagnosis, helping them to make better decisions for the patient.
The international symposium RITMOS 2015 ended with analysis on identifying the actions in R+D+i+E, the presentation of the conclusions, and futures lines of action for RITMO 2016.