Digital health in Latin America: current legislation and ethical aspects

Alegre et al.


Describe the current legislation on electronic medical records (EMR) and telehealth in Latin American countries and analyze the treatment of confidentiality and professional secrecy.


Between March and September 2022, a survey of the regulations in force in 21 Latin American countries was conducted at two levels: the existence of legislation on EMR and telehealth, and the treatment of confidentiality and professional secrecy in EMR and telehealth. A data extraction form was prepared for each country. Data were collected from official on-line sources. The information was analyzed qualitatively and synthesized in tables when possible


The use of EMR is legally regulated in 16 countries. Nineteen countries have legislation on telehealth. All the countries analyzed safeguard confidentiality and professional secrecy through regulations. However, confidentiality and professional secrecy are mentioned in 11 countries in the context of telehealth, and in only nine countries in the context of EMR. 


Since the start of this century, Latin America has made progress in the legislation of digital tools for health care, such as EMR and telehealth. There is also interest in ethical issues related to the use of EMR and telehealth, particularly confidentiality and professional secrecy, aspects that should be strengthened in digital health.

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Original research