Steven R. Steinhubl et al. –
Global access to health care is far from adequate, with health disparities widening; the rise of economic inequities and shortages in the health workforce are contributors. This is especially true for people who live in rural areas in low-income countries without access to essential health services. Yet digital infrastructure and technologies exist that could allow virtual and rapid provision of health care for many health conditions, for almost everyone, at any time, irrespective of their location. Virtual health care is not new. In fact, the first virtual diagnosis was described in 1879, just 3 years after Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. What makes it such a viable option today is the unprecedented growth in mobile telecommunications and internet access across many low-income and middle-income countries. In fact, 95% of the world’s population now have cellular coverage. Built on this connected framework, with an expansive array of new digital tools, it’s possible to reimagine how care can be provided.