The Need for a Strategy for Telehealth
The Brazilian Telehealth Program has been an important step towards the widespread use of Telehealth in the country as a strategy for the construction and consolidation of Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), the Brazilian National Health System. The Programme created a culture of collaboration and problem solving by connecting together health workers in need of advice from experts who could provide evidence-based answers in a timely fashion.
More recently, Telehealth procedures and delivery centres became a formal part of SUS, making it possible for Telehealth Centres to be accredited, providing Telehealth procedures as a formal service to SUS, thus allowing for payment for those services.
As such initiatives evolve, it is important to revisit the recent experience, evaluate the potential that Telehealth technologies bring, draw inspiration from the experience of other countries and plan actions to ensure that Telehealth be widely and suitably used in Brazil, by both public and private sectors. Telehealth is an important means to expand the reach and the regional scope of health services and increase the availability of specialised care, thus strengthening the principles of universality and integrality of care, equity of access and even administrative decentralisation. This paper explores ways to creating a vision for the use of Telehealth in an integrated way.
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