March 4, 2024

The Ministry of Health is considering the inclusion of artificial intelligence in the SUS

The Ministry of Health would like to implement new technologies in the Unified Health System (SUS). The aim is to broaden the population’s access to increasingly comprehensive, flexible and quality public health services. One idea is, for example, to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into customer service services. All of this will be done through a program still under study, SUS Digital.

“We are talking about a new scenario here. The Ministry of Health, within a large team, is designing Digital SUS, which is digital integration at all levels of the unified health system (SUS) from primary care [em Unidades Básicas de Saúde, por exemplo] for third care [de alta complexidade, como Unidades de Terapia Intensiva]Cleanaldo de Almeida Costa, Director of Digital Health and Innovation at the Ministry of Health, said in an interview with the Health Ministry Brazil agency and the Brazil TV This Tuesday (23).

According to him, the program should “rethink access to SUS through apps, the use of AI or big data” and “redesign health”. [no país] over the next twenty years.”

During a table held at the Feira Hospitalar, in São Paulo, the Director of the Ministry stated that the program aims to transform the SUS into a “friendly system, bringing it closer to the citizen and simplifying the user’s life”.

The Ministry’s goal is that with SUS Digital, diagnoses can be improved, public health care is more flexible, and there is more inclusion. “in the first place, [o benefício] It will be digital inclusion in SUS. Really include, leave no one behind. Secondly, to improve the quality of life of Brazilian citizens through SUS, so that health can be integrated into their daily lives, on their mobile phones, on their tablets, reducing waiting lists, that is, bringing the health system into the citizen’s life,” Costa highlighted.


Some projects in Brazil are already testing the digital health app in intensive care units (ICUs), trials that began during the novel coronavirus pandemic. And with good results, according to Carlos Carvalho, Professor of Pulmonology at the University of São Paulo (USP) School of Medicine and Director of Digital Health at Hospital das Clínicas de São Paulo.

“We have a project with the Ministry of Health to help high-risk pregnant women and postpartum women in intensive care settings. The Ministry selected some hospitals. In the 11 hospitals where we already work, we’ve seen a decrease of 270 [por 100 mil nascidos vivos] to 140 maternal deaths in just six months,” Carvalho estimates. This pilot project should be expanded so that every Brazilian state has at least one in development.

Another project is TeleUTI for covid-19, which worked through the telemedicine center installed at the Instituto do Coração (Incor). The initiative supported the rehabilitation and training of health professionals working in intensive care units. “In the TeleUTI that we have done here, together with the Ministry of Health of the State of São Paulo, until December 2021 we have served nearly 2,000 patients and given more than 11,000 consultations. With the increase in the number of visits, the lethality of these patients has been reduced in The units we were bringing in.”


In the report, Carvalho mentioned that during the pandemic, Brazilian technological lag in the field of digital health was evident. States and the federal government were able to quickly increase the number of beds and equipment [para o tratamento da covid-19]. But what governments have generally done is build roads and put cars in. The problem, however, were the pilots. Who will drive these cars? What was clear was that they did not have trained professionals to operate these ICUs [que foram criadas durante a pandemia]”.

Thanks to new technologies, it was possible to fill this shortage of professionals and help save more lives. As Carvalho emphasized, “Telehealth comes to train these people and to carry out teleconsultations and consultations. The initial studies we conducted were able to demonstrate a decrease in mortality [dos pacientes]as long as you have a qualified team at one end and another minimally qualified team at the other.”


For Digital SUS to be fully implemented in the country, Brazil will need to improve its network infrastructure. “What we need to do is work hard on connectivity in our country. There is still a lot of asymmetry in connectivity and this is an effort that this government is proposing to do,” noted Clenaldo de Almeida Costa, Director of Digital Health and Innovation at the Ministry of Health.

Another challenge is ensuring data security for users who use this system. “We are working within the Unified Health System on a new reality called the General Data Protection Regulation. Within this ethical scenario, the Health System has worked to enhance the digital experience of the user and bring health closer to the daily lives of Brazilian citizens.”

These are not the only challenges that will involve the use of these technologies in the health field. Last week, for example, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement saying it was excited about the topic, but called for caution in the use of AI to “protect and promote well-being, security and autonomy”. Human rights and the preservation of public health. ” For the institution, it is necessary to carefully assess the risks of this type of tool in the health field.

“Rapid adoption of untested systems could lead to errors by healthcare professionals, cause harm to patients, undermine confidence in AI, and thus undermine (or delay) the potential benefits and long-term uses of these technologies worldwide,” the organization warned. World Health in a statement.


The Hospitalar Fair, which started on Tuesday and will continue until next Friday (26) at the São Paulo Fair, in the city of São Paulo, is the largest health event in Latin America and one of the three largest in the region in the world. This year, the exhibition will discuss the power of platforms and their impact on the healthcare sector.