WHO releases 1st recommendations for digital health tech use

The World Health Organization, a Geneva, Switzerland-based agency of the United Nations, released a report on April 17 detailing 10 key ways in which nations around the world can use digital health technologies to better the health of their populations.

According to the report, compiled after two years of research and consultations, though digital resources are not all-encompassing health solutions, they can have a sizable positive impact on users' wellbeing and access to healthcare. To do so, developers must ensure health workers and users are well-trained in the technology, security systems are in place to protect medical information and new systems coordinate with other digital health resources.

"Digital health is not a silver bullet," Bernardo Mariano, CIO of WHO, said. "WHO is working to make sure it's used as effectively as possible. This means ensuring that it adds value to the health workers and individuals using these technologies, takes into account the infrastructural limitations, and that there is proper coordination."

For example, WHO noted, although telehealth options have made it easier for people in remote locations to receive medical consultation, these long-distance appointments should not completely replace in-person interactions with physicians.

Among the other uses of digital health tech deemed effective by WHO are automatic reminders about prenatal and vaccination appointments, and decision-support tools to educate and guide health workers.

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