New study shares evidence, practices, and concrete recommendations on the digital transformation of healthcare in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Healthcare Digital Transformation (HDT) offers a unique opportunity to leverage technology’s transforming power to address fundamental flaws in the region’s healthcare systems. These are the main findings of the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) new flagship report, The Great Opportunity of Digital Healthcare in Latin America and the Caribbean. The study analyzes at the different aspects of healthcare’s digital transformation and outlines necessary practical steps so that each country can set its own path in this process.
The report highlights how the proper implementation of the digital transformation of healthcare can yield major benefits in terms of service efficiency improvements and medical error reduction. Inefficient treatment of patients in low- and middle-income countries causes between 5.7 million and 8.4 million deaths each year, or 15 percent of all deaths.
The report warns that healthcare spending trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are on an upward trajectory and that without good information systems in place, inefficiencies will translate into higher costs. If the region’s healthcare systems become more efficient, life expectancy among Latin American and Caribbean people may rise by four years on average.
On the other hand, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), low healthcare quality in low- and middle-income countries causes $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion in annual productivity losses.
Computerized systems allow healthcare professionals to make informed decisions through access to images, indicators, updated protocols, and reminders or alerts on a patient’s drug interactions, allergies, and contraindications.
The digital transformation of health improves patient care times as data management systems reduce the time spent on administrative tasks. In addition, telemedicine connects physicians with patients in remote areas and with people with reduced mobility, saving them time and travel costs.
The use of mHealth, the practice of healthcare supported by mobile devices, generates promising impacts for the treatment chronic diseases and the adoption of healthy habits.
Latin America is lagging behind in terms of digital health – only 11 countries have legislation on electronic health record systems, and only 14 of 26 countries surveyed have a healthcare strategy in place.
In the coming years, Latin America and the Caribbean countries will need to align their fight against the pandemic with the revitalization of healthcare services disrupted by the crisis and preparation for future emergencies. Digital transformation plays a key role in these efforts.
Digitalization is one of the main pillars of Vision 2025, the IDB’s roadmap for inclusive and sustainable growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
About the IDB
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.