Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Date Submitted: Jun 25, 2020
Open Peer Review Period: Jun 25, 2020 - Aug 20, 2020
(currently open for review)
Harnessing digital health technologies during and after the COVID-19 pandemic: context matters
A common development during COVID-19 has been renewed reliance on digital health. While prior to the pandemic the uptake of digital health technologies to directly strengthen public health systems had been unsatisfactory, the relentless acceleration during COVID-19 happened within healthcare systems and thus could not prescind from the organizational and institutional merits of the systems in which it was introduced. The Italian National Health Service (SSN) is strongly decentralized, with the national government exercising general stewardship and regions responsible for the delivery of healthcare services. These institutional characteristics, together with the substantial void of previous digital efforts, resulted in delays in the uptake of appropriate solutions, territorial differences and issues in the engagement of the appropriate healthcare professionals during the pandemic. A deeper analysis of the organizational context is not only instrumental in fully interpreting the digital health contribution during COVID-19 but should also provide the foundation for the digital reconstruction of what is to come after.
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