Promoting E-Healthcare in Iran's Rural Regions

Promoting E-Healthcare in Rural RegionsPromoting E-Healthcare in Rural Regions

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday to promote e-healthcare services in rural regions.

The agreement was signed by Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi and Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi on the sidelines of the 22nd edition of the International Exhibition of Electronics, Computer and E-Commerce (Elecomp 2016) in Tehran.


“The Health Ministry has taken strides in extending services to rural areas, and the new MoU will help resolve several existing issues, including setting up an efficient medical database,” Vaezi said, Mehr News Agency reported.

Among the key provisions of the agreement are healthcare promotion in rural, border, and remote or underdeveloped regions, he said, underlining that reinvigorating rural areas is a priority for the Rouhani administration.

The two ministries are trying to reduce the digital gap in infrastructure for e-services in remote or lesser developed areas. Based on an earlier agreement, the Communications Ministry is obliged to provide high-speed internet in villages on priority to have access to e-services provided by the Health Ministry.

“The current accord envisages developing infrastructure for expansion of the national healthcare network, advancement of the ‘Electronic Records for Every Citizen’ project, and resolve the problems on medicine distribution in the country,” said Hashemi.

Issues such as monitoring medicine consumption patterns, pharmaceutical products authenticity and shelf life, pricing, and the supply chain need to be addressed.

He said the infrastructure for such services is available but remains underutilized due to lack of technical support, including appropriate software, which is expected to be available by the end of the current year in March 2017.


  Electronic Healthcare System

Additionally, setting up such facilities will enable a patient in a border region to be “seen” by a doctor and prescribed medications under a controlled digital system of electronic healthcare, said Hashemi.

Effective monitoring will also inform experts and authorities on what types of medications are consumed in a particular area, and what diseases are prevalent.

According to the director of the Health Ministry’s IT and Statistics Office, Mahmoud Tara, all state hospitals numbering 560 are now connected to the Digital Health Information System, while in 2014 only 100 were connected.

The e-health records project is slowly but surely growing. The health minister had promised in 2015 that e-records will be created for every person by the end of the current administration’s tenure in mid-2017.

Electronic records have been opened for almost half of the 80 million population so far, while only 10% of all medical centers and doctor’s offices use electronic records system.

The system is designed to present accurate data on a person’s health status at all times. It allows for a patient’s entire medical history to be viewed besides ensuring that the data is precise, appropriate and legible.

The two sides are also planning to set up a National Health Information Observatory which will be tasked with collecting, monitoring, and analysis of the latest health data.

“This is an unprecedented project in the Middle East and Asia,” Tara noted.

Once completed, the project will be introduced and presented before the World Health Organization as per the global health body’s request. The project will facilitate constant and continuous screening of health indicators, provision of services at all levels in all regions, and the number of visits made to different medical and health centers.

All joint projects will be implemented using the National Information Network launched in August, which allows access to e-government and digital services in the country, affordable access to high-speed communications, as well as access to domestic content and services nationwide with a bandwidth currently standing at 4,000 gigabytes per second.

Elecomp 2016 wrapped up on Sunday at the Tehran International Permanent Fairgrounds.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints