Jamaica Pursues Digital Transformation Of Health Sector

Jamaica is moving to achieve the digital transformation of its health sector, even as health systems globally come under pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jamaica made its efforts known at the 59th meeting of the PAHO Directing Council being held in Washington DC.

“Jamaica is utilising digital health technologies in continuing medical education and to improve access to specialist care with the ECHO model that has continued through the pandemic response,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said Tuesday (September 21).

The CMO is a part of the island’s delegation to the meeting. The Jamaica delegation is led Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who is also chair of the meeting.

  

The ECHO (extension for community healthcare outcomes) model uses a knowledge-sharing approach that puts expert teams in touch with primary care physicians, toward better patient outcomes.

Since January this year, the model has been rolled out under the Health Systems Strengthening Programme (HSSP), with the Ministry of Health & Wellness conducting virtual training, including with a focus on hypertension cases with staff at various sites.

Meanwhile, the CMO told the PAHO Directing Council that “increasing access to health care through a mobile App is another utilisation of digital health technology that is advancing” and which is to be used as part of the implementation of Jamaica’s chronic care model.

“Mr. President, in 2016, Jamaica welcomed the Information Systems for Health (IS4H) Framework as the renewed model for approaching the traditional Health Information System,” the CMO noted.

“The High Level IS4H Caribbean meeting was convened in Jamaica in 2016, and through PAHO leadership and support from international loans and grants, there has been progress made in IS4H in Jamaica,” she added.

The first major PAHO-supported activity was the IS4H Plan of Action that is now advanced. Other key milestones for Jamaica include:

  • the passing of the Data Protection Act 2020;
  • the procurement of the information communication ad technology infrastructure for some 105 primary care centres; and
  • the advanced stage of procurement of a national Electronic Health Record System and Open Platform.

“Jamaica’s approach to data and interoperability will enable artificial intelligence, geospatial technologies, data science and other emerging technologies to improve health care delivery and health systems management,” the CMO revealed.

  

This is especially important given the health system weaknesses exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need to engage the population using simple and available technologies, including the mobile phone, has highlighted the importance of inclusive digital health. The pandemic has shown that the activities under the Plan of Action are proceeding in the right direction to increase resiliency of the health system,” the CMO explained.

“Support is needed for innovative mechanisms for capacity building, protection of human rights in digital health, digital health literacy, knowledge sharing and strategic partnerships,” she added.

The CMO concluded by indicating Jamaica’s support for the Roadmap for the Digital Transformation of the Health Sector in the Region of the Americas.

“Mr. President, Jamaica has provided evidence of our support for the Digital Transformation principles and roadmap. We support the resolution and anticipate the continued support and leadership of PAHO in this regard,” she said.

Developed to ensure “consistency and convergence” in the development of inclusive national policies and regulatory environments for digital transformation in health, the roadmap calls, among other things, for the development of human capital and infrastructure that allow digital technologies to be used inclusively, ethically, and securely, for the purpose of enhancing cooperation in the broader public health ecosystem.

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