The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created an urgent need for coordinated mechanisms to respond to the outbreak across health sectors, and digital health solutions have been identified as promising approaches to address this challenge. This editorial discusses the current situation regarding digital health solutions to fight COVID-19 as well as the challenges and ethical hurdles to broad and long-term implementation of these solutions. To decrease the risk of infection, telemedicine has been used as a successful health care model in both emergency and primary care. Official communication plans should promote facile and diverse channels to inform people about the pandemic and to avoid rumors and reduce threats to public health. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Google Trends analyses are highly beneficial to model pandemic trends as well as to monitor the evolution of patients' symptoms or public reaction to the pandemic over time. However, acceptability of digital solutions may face challenges due to potential conflicts with users' cultural, moral, and religious backgrounds. Digital tools can provide collective public health benefits; however, they may be intrusive and can erode individual freedoms or leave vulnerable populations behind. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the strong potential of various digital health solutions that have been tested during the crisis. More concerted measures should be implemented to ensure that future digital health initiatives will have a greater impact on the epidemic and meet the most strategic needs to ease the life of people who are at the forefront of the crisis.
Keywords: COVID-19; communication; coronavirus; digital health; digital technology; eHealth; epidemiology; health care; infodemiology; public health; review; surveillance.
©Guy Fagherazzi, Catherine Goetzinger, Mohammed Ally Rashid, Gloria A Aguayo, Laetitia Huiart. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 16.06.2020.