Unleashing Digital Health to Save Lives
By Hallie Goertz, Global Training and Packaging Lead, BID Initiative/Digital Health Solutions at PATH
Dec 8, 2016
At PATH, our digital health work spans the entire software development lifecycle from analysis of information systems to deployment and long-term use of those systems. We work across health areas, such as immunization, supply chain, maternal and child health, and insurance to identify and address information management needs and improve data-driven decision-making.
The use of digital technology in Africa is growing rapidly, with the number of internet users doubling over the past two years to roughly 340 million (Internet World Stats, 2016). This trend offers a significant opportunity to look to digital health innovations to improve global health.
Growth in internet access is really exciting to us at PATH as we believe that our approach to digital health addresses common health system challenges – like those faced by the BID Initiative’s demonstration countries — in a uniquely effective way. In large part this is because of our foundational belief in the importance of designing with the user in mind. In practice, this means that our Digital Health Solutions group partners with national ministries of health and other key stakeholders to address user requirements that are sensitive to the context in which they are implemented and used.
The BID Initiative team supports this approach as they work to marry the development of digital immunization registries and barcode technology with interventions focused on creating a data use culture in Tanzania. Involving end users early and often is critical to ensure the digital solutions we propose and implement are sustained by the people who use them. The BID Initiative established a User Advisory Group made up of members from every level of the health system and was also designed with an embedded peer learning network, the BID Learning Network, to facilitate adoption by other countries.
Collaboration and user-centered design are the foundations of PATH’s digital health practice. Next week, PATH’s Digital Health Solutions, BID Initiative, and MACEPA teams, along with many of our key partners and stakeholders, will participate in Global Digital Health Week outside of Washington, DC.
The week will focus on catalyzing change in healthcare delivery in developing economies to advance mobile and connected health in low- and middle-income countries and will provide a tremendous opportunity to develop relationships, discuss learnings and best practices, and better understand the challenges faced by the countries we work with.
We believe that working collaboratively maximizes the value of existing investments, fosters multi-stakeholder partnerships, and supports strong cooperation between the health and technology sectors, led by Ministries of Health and Ministries of Communication and other eGovernment Agencies. These meetings help us continue to build links between the world of global health and the discipline of information and computer technology. Because we know that when the right information is in the right hands, every country can overcome its health challenges, and more people can get the care they need.
We look forward to sharing updates from the events next week:
Digital Health Governance, Leadership, and Donor Coordination: A Cross-Ministry Workshop. This event, organized by the World Bank, USAID, and PATH, brings together the governments of Malawi, Senegal, Nigeria, and Tanzania, as well as donors and private-sector organizations to gain a common understanding of where each country is on their path towards a national digital health system, build collective support for country efforts, and unlock potential funding from donors.
Global Digital Health Forum put on by the Personal Connected Health Alliance in partnership with the Global Digital Health Network and USAID, brings together public- and private-sector organizations to share the latest evidence, experiences, and lessons learned on new applications and approaches in digital health. PATH will present several abstracts at the event.
Health Data Collaborative, Digital Health and Interoperability Working Group (DH&IWG) Meeting. This Health Data Collaborative working group is dedicated to increasing the interoperability of digital health systems in order to reduce the fragmentation and inefficiencies of existing digital health investments and infrastructure. PATH is providing Secretariat support to the DH&IWG, and sponsoring the meeting.