The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance and usefulness of telemedicine, to provide a way to put patients and health professionals in contact when a consultation in person is not possible.
Teleconsultations are a safe and effective way to assess suspected COVID-19 cases and to guide the patient's diagnosis and treatment, minimizing the risk of disease transmission. Telemedicine also enables many of the key clinical services to continue to operate regularly and without interruption in the course of a public health emergency.
Legislation regarding telemedicine varies in different countries, but any health institution interested in implementing telemedicine services will need to assess its maturity level before doing so.
This tool (above) for assessing the maturity level of health institutions to implement telemedicine services was created by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to help with that task. The tool was created in collaboration with institutions and experts in telemedicine and the use of IT in public health from the Region of the Americas and Spain. They are:
- Social Protection and Health Division, Inter-American Development Bank
- Department of IT in Health, Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires (PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center for Information Systems and Digital Health)
- Open University of Catalonia (UOC) (PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center for eHealth)
- Center for Health Informatics, University of Illinois (PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center on Information Systems for Health)
- Salud.uy, Agency for eGovernment and the Information Society (AGESIC) of Uruguay
- Telemedicine Network from Brazil
- The Central American Health Informatics Network, RECAINSA
- PAHO Information Systems for Health (IS4H) network of experts.
PAHO and the IDB do not and cannot guarantee the performance or results that may be obtained from the use of the tool. PAHO and the IDB make no guarantees, nor do they assume any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided. The disclaimer extends to all malfunction, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, computer virus, communication failure, breach or destruction. Furthermore, neither PAHO nor the IDB will be responsible for any damage, claim, cost or loss related or that may arise from the use, inappropriate use or impossibility of using the tool.