PerspectiveViewpoint: COVID-19

Bridging digital health divides

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Science  28 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6507, pp. 1050-1052
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc9295

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Summary

On 23 March 2020, India announced a national lockdown to contain the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic (1). Routine health care virtually came to a standstill, with only emergency care being provided. In view of the high infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 and scarcity of quality personal protective equipment, patients and health care workers (HCWs) both looked for alternatives to face-to-face care (2). Telemedicine and digital health, oversold and underdelivered for the past two decades, found a new impetus driven by coalescence of often antagonistic viewpoints on issues such as rights of medical practitioners versus digital health companies, regulatory standards to ensure quality and data security, and financial models of public versus private goods. However, whether the current urgency will succeed in bringing about digital health transformation, with quality care and seamless connections across spheres of life, will depend on many factors.

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