Towards a safer and better version of digitally enabled primary care

Ana Luisa Neves


Digital health is the convergence of digital technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society. In this presentation, we will revisit the potential that digital health presents for the delivery of higher quality, safer, and more equitable primary care. Focusing on three examples – patient access to health records, big data analytics, and virtual care – we discuss the emerging opportunities and challenges of digital health, and how they can both challenge and improve safety in primary care. We will also reflect on the need of performing research that adequately evaluates digital interventions: supported by clear outcomes, informed by the six dimensions of quality of care (patient-centredness, efficiency, effectiveness, safety, timeliness, and equity); and focused on defined populations to understand what works, how, and or which patients.

Finally, we will reflect on the need to collaborative approaches to allow digital health to reach its full potential, and the need to improve infrastructure, support, and training for both patients and providers. As primary care embraces technology, we must work together to reduce the digital divide, rather than entrenching existing inequities for low-income, racial–ethnic minority and linguistically diverse populations. From a primary care perspective, digital health will only achieve its full potential once it remains try to the core values of our specialty and leaves no one behind.

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