Ecuador through different programs and projects has relied on Telehealth to offer care to patients and the general population.
Ecuador was one of the first countries in South America to confirm COVID-19 cases. Therefore, it was one of the first countries in the region to use digital tools for the prevention of contagion and establish a communicative channel with the population.
On March 25, President Lenín Moreno introduced the smartphone app, SaludEC,https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.phuyusalud.movil&hl=es).
This application seeks to serve citizens during the emergency by COVID-19 and provide official information on the progress of the disease in the country.
The app seeks to know and monitor the health status of those who have symptoms of coronavirus disease. In addition to the symptom assessment, the application collects data for epidemiological surveillance in the South American country.
The application was created after the health emergency; however, it not only caters to calls by COVID-19, but is an application that provides medical care to all citizens. In its first six hours, the app had more than 12,000 downloads, proving that digital channels are ideal for dealing with public health issues.
In addition to government actions, society and private investment has also responded to the emergency call, through the application of digital tools. For example, Goctors (https://www.goctors.com/), a telemedicine platform with years of experience, implemented its project “Tu Cita Solidaria” -or Your Solidarity Appointment in English-, that offers free medical care for vulnerable people. The platform has a team of 150 volunteers, and its goal is to reach 500 doctors who provide their services through remote consultations.
Volunteers must donate 10 appointments per week to be part of the project. As for the system of use, patients choose through WhatsApp the specialty they are looking for: general medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, psychology and family medicine.
Another platform that promotes the use of tools in Digital Health is Teleasistencia & Telesalud (https://teleasistencia.ec/), which was created by the Ecuadorian Research Development Corporation and the Academy (Cedia).
Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Public Health, Universities, psychological care organizations and hospitals, it can provide a quality telemedicine service, in addition the Technical University of Ambato and the University of Cuenca offer legal care services in cases of domestic violence.
According to data from their website, they have provided more than 3200 medical guidance through Zoom and have almost 500 health professionals supporting the project, in addition to more than seven educational and health institutions linked to the project.
The importance of digital platforms in times of emergency lies in preventing mobility of any kind among the population and avoiding the saturation of health centers. This is why Digital Health tools, such as teleconsultation or telemedicine, are necessary to provide medical assistance without leaving home. On the other hand, there are also challenges in Ecuador for its implementation, such as infrastructure and connectivity to improve internet services.
MINISTERIO DE TELECOMUNICACIONES