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Beth Israel Deaconess Informaticists to Support Latin American eHealth Efforts

January 4, 2016
by David Raths
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Effort will begin by looking at newborn and maternal health

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) plans to tap into the expertise of the Division of Clinical Informatics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston to support the advancement of eHealth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

BIDMC efforts will be led by Director of Global Health Informatics Yuri Quintana, Ph.D., who will work with his technical counterpart, David Novillo, PAHO eHealth program coordinator, on eHealth training strategies and the development of research priorities and publications for use in Latin America and the Caribbean. (PAHO serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.)

"We'll be studying how different implementations in different countries are adapted to fit local needs," said Quintana, in a prepared statement. "We'll then examine how effectively communicating best practices can help improve outcomes while reducing costs."

Quintana and Novillo will begin by looking at newborn and maternal health.

One of the United Nations millennial goals is to reduce infant mortality, Quintana added. Although progress has been made, there are still infant mortality rates as high as 30 to 40 percent in areas where there are fewer services. “This problem lends itself to telemedicine and eHealth because technology can connect experts where they're needed and when they're needed,” Quintana said.

Quintana will collaborate with BIDMC clinicians Charles Safran, M.D., Chief of the Division of Clinical Informatics; James Gray, M.D., neonatologist; and Hope Ricciotti, M.D., Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Drs. Safran and Gray developed one of the world's first telemedicine applications for neonatal care called Baby CareLink in 1996.

"For more than 45 years, the goals of BIDMC's Informatics Division have been to improve the quality and reduce the cost of medical care, to enhance the quality of medical education, to improve the relationship between doctor and patient, and to explore innovative approaches to research through computing," said Safran in a statement. "We look forward to sharing our expertise with colleagues from Latin America and to explore long-term collaborations."