Computing Profession

Telemedicine in Latin America

Drummond Ltd. Systems engineer Carlos A. Brewer R.

Telemedicine means “remote applied medicine” including diagnosis, treatment and education.

Telemedicine reduces cost, times and it delivers medical services to remote regions of a country or continent, it uses modern telecommunication services and computer science to achieve these goals.

 Telemedicine usually provides the following services: remote diagnosis, elearning, tele-conference and digital data storage.

 The origins of telemedicine goes back to 1924 were an article published on the radio news magazine depicted the possibilities of using radio as a way to bring medical services.

Lately in the 50’s several demonstrations were performed in the US on how a telemedicine system will work using that time technologies. It was in the 70 with the new satellite technology when telemedicine got the necessary boost and it became an important aspect of medical services around the world.


Due to poverty conditions and lack of economical resources Latin countries saw telemedicine as an alternative to provide both medical services to its people with a low cost profile and educational services to their doctors as a way to improve the abilities of them.


Situation of telemedicine in Latin America is remarkable, with a telemedicine program already established or with a starting point in every country; the region is becoming a leader on this field.


The telemedicine programs are strongly supported by PAHO, the Pan-American Health Organization with the resolution 361 of the XXII health ministers meeting held in Santiago de Chile on November 27-28 2000.


The experiences of each country varies from one to another, for example Chile has several programs like the “Centro Diagnostico de la Universidad Catolica  el hospital Soterro del Rio” or diagnostic center of “Universidad Catolica” with the “Soterro del Rio” hospital, Pascua inland with “Indisa” clinic and the Antarctica program of Chilean air force, among many public initiatives that includes protocol development, medical imaging digitalization and transmission etc.


Colombia, shows both private and public initiatives, for example tele radiology between a private company and the “Instituto del Seguro Social”, a medical institution, there is also several universities with telemedicine groups and program like one of “Universidad Nacional” which is one of the most important public universities of the country.


Peru shows the EHAS program intended to deliver information services to doctors located in remote regions of the Amazonian area with low cost information technologies.


Venezuela has several initiatives under the leadership of  “Universidad de Carabobo”, “Universidad Simon Bolivar” and “Universidad de los Andes, three important local universities.


Mexico already shows important advances in this field with several programs for different medical specialties like the diabetes control program, the psychological program, a medical program for immigrants, control program for Alzheimer and more.


Brazil started telemedicine programs like one developed between the Brazilian city of Macae with the help of United Kingdom to provide medical services to personnel of off-shore oil platforms and other risk population of the city.


It is important to mention here that data integrity, security and privacy must be one of the key aspects of any of these telemedicine programs.


Some external references:

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