The initiative telehealth “Doctor for Everyone” demonstrates the power of digital in promoting equal access to healthcare in Vietnam, which helps patients to choose and schedule appointments with the right healthcare professionals at the most convenient times.
Prof. Dr. Tran Van Thuan, Deputy Minister of Health, made the statement a recent workshop hosted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Hanoi, saying that the impact of the "Doctor for Everyone" grassroots telehealth initiative in Vietnam has been revealed through the responses of individuals surveyed at project sites.
Thuan emphasized that people in need of medical examination or treatment can receive prompt care from their local community health stations with consultations from doctors in higher-level facilities through seamless online connections facilitated by dedicated health workers.
Prof. Dr. Tran Van Thuan, Deputy Minister of Health, delivers a speech at the workshop. Photo: UNDP
This approach not only reduces the financial burden of pursuing distant medical care but also enhances the capabilities of community-based health workers, fostering a more resilient healthcare system.
"The MoH will keep coordinating with UNDP to mobilize resources to implement the health digital transformation program, complete the targets of the new rural and advanced rural programs under the health ministry’s management towards managing people's health in a digital environment, and continue to prioritize capacity-building activities for grassroots health care,” Thuan said.
He added that the "Doctor for Everyone" telehealth system was initially developed in 2020. “Its implementation journey began with two installation phases: training, field testing, and refinement in Ha Giang, Bac Kan, and Lang Son provinces between 2021 and 2022. The current phase has targeted the grassroots healthcare system in five provinces: Thua Thien Hue, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Dak Lak, and Ca Mau, building upon the insights and lessons from the initial project,” said the deputy minister.
This initiative has gained strong support from healthcare professionals, with 4,900 staff members at provincial, district, and commune levels receiving comprehensive training to use the "Doctor for Everyone" program effectively. The impact has been equally impressive among community members, with 755,000 individuals creating accounts, leading to around 28,000 health appointment requests being processed through the system by June 2023.
Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, remarked: "UNDP prioritizes supporting Vietnam's National Digital Transformation Roadmap to 2025 and vision to 2030, including digital health transformation. Our long-term goal is to support the development of a nationwide grassroots telehealth system, where grassroots health workers are supported with guidance at their fingertips and patients receive the highest quality care on time."
"UNDP is working with the MoH, provinces, and other counterparts in Vietnam to mobilize further resources to support expansion to more provinces and the ongoing development of the legal and policy framework for telehealth," she added.
Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, speaks at the workshop. Photo: UNDP
One of the key highlights of the current project is its potential to deliver tangible improvements in health access and outcomes beyond the context of Covid-19. This sustainable approach to healthcare delivery is founded on the MoH’s telemedicine strategy for 2020-2025, emphasizing robust clinical governance principles that ensure people receive high-quality and professional health services at the most appropriate level in the system.
This strategy helps control diseases, reduces overcrowding in higher-level health facilities, and improves the quality of medical examinations and treatments. Ensuring timely referrals and continuous guidance from higher-level health facilities and specialist doctors when required leads to better health outcomes for the people.