Digital technologies: shaping the future of primary health care. (Technical Series on Primary Health Care)
(2018; 12 pages)


Information and communication technologies were newly emerging when the Declaration of Alma-Ata was agreed four decades ago. At the time, the adoption of these technologies in health services was complex, costly and limited. The commonplace technologies of today such as smart phones, tablets and laptop computers did not exist. However, by 1990 new technologies – notably, the Internet – had begun to have a revolutionary impact. As they became more advanced, more assimilated in all sectors and mainstream in society these technologies have shown remarkable value for health.

From technologies that allow people to manage their health more effectively, to better ways of diagnosing disease, to monitoring the impact of policies on population health, digital technologies for health, or digital health, are having a profound effect on how health services are delivered and how health systems are run. The impressive trend in national policies for digital health (more than 120 countries by 2015) reflects the firm commitment to use digital technologies to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, support universal health coverage and shape the future of primary health care.

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