How Co-Investment Sparks Collaboration

By Amanda BenDor

People often think of innovation in digital health as a new device or tool. But innovation most often doesn’t materialize into an object that one can ever touch or feel. Whether it be approaches to scale or investment models, the real innovations in digital health are the approaches taken to navigate hurdles to help countries appropriately harness digital systems and tools to improve health outcomes. Digital Square fully embraces all kinds of innovation in the digital health space. We are at our core, an innovative investment mechanism, supported by a growing consortium of donors; something very unique in the global health ecosystem.

Virtual collaboration with an emphasis on transparency

Coordinating investments in a dynamic, fast-paced space like digital health requires innovation and flexibility. Digital Square offers a unique approach to investment coordination. Several times a year, Digital Square holds an open call for proposals whereby organizations can submit concept notes for new global goods investments using an Open Proposal Process via an online platform. This platform enables users to post their ideas in an open forum, and seek input and feedback from the community to refine the concept or broaden their consortium for implementation while they develop their concept note into a submitted proposal. The very open process also builds the community around global goods while reducing redundancy and duplication of effort. An expert Peer Review Committee (PRC) reviews global goods proposals according to technical and programmatic criteria and makes recommendations to the Digital Square Governing Board for investment.  

Transparent and proposal are two words that don’t normally go together, but at Digital Square, we are shaking up how the digital health space normally does business. In fact, the Digital Square Open Proposal Process is a paradigm shift in how to engage implementers, funders, and users of digital health systems and tools.  Innovative ideas and creative solutions to harnessing digital tools are often held close to the chest of implementing organizations and are rarely openly discussed with donors. Digital Square encourages more transparency in this space, believing that if we improve our collaboration and coordination, we will reduce duplication and increase efficiencies in the global goods deployed for use in low- and middle-income countries.

Implementing organizations have begun embracing this novel approach and recognizing the value of obtaining feedback from their peers. The African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together,” is realized through this process, with the understanding that it takes a community to advance the complexities of digital health software development, user engagement, and system deployment.

There are currently seventeen global goods receiving funding from Digital Square to support activities in core software development,  the enabling environment, or applications. Jembi is among those partners, who have participated in the open proposal process and been successful in securing approval and funding for their applications.

"Jembi is an enthusiastic participant and beneficiary of the Digital Square program and see a great deal of value in the collaborative, co-creation process,” Dr Chris Seebregts, Founder and CEO of Jembi Health Systems NPC.  “We are seeing the creation of substantial value for low-resource countries through development and adoption of open source global goods and expect this to grow in the future as other funders and contributors follow this lead."

Co-investment approaches

The mechanism of Digital Square allows for multiple donors to buy-in to the project, thus Digital Square is poised to advocate on the behalf of a multitude of partners. At Digital Square, we work with these potential donors to highlight the needs in the digital health ecosystem by using the global good proposal content as a way for donors to see the needs across the space and avoid duplicate investments. While not intentional, duplication and inefficiencies in funding digital health has been a major barrier. By setting up a publicly accessible Open Proposal Process  reviewed and vetted by the PRC and Digital Square Governing Board, which includes investors in digital health, we are showing investors the needs in this space and providing a venue for greater donor coordination.

Digital Square takes several other approaches to facilitate co-investment in global goods.  

  • We spend a lot of time helping donors understand the digital health landscape and the health systems disease of “pilotitis”. Through these accelerated advocacy efforts,we work with donors to shift their thinking in how they traditionally fund digital tools towards a more holistic approach of digital tool investments.

  • Digital Square also helps investors understand their priorities and interests, and then aligns these preferences with identified needs in the ecosystem.

  • To gain a broader understanding of the needs in the global good space, Digital Square is internally mapping the gaps and capacity-building efforts to further ensure that the highest needs are prioritized.

Another co-investment strategy is to leverage other partner resources to fund global good work. One example is with the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), who recently co-invested in a proposal submitted through Notice B to support OpenCRVS, an open source civil registration and vital statistics project. Digital Square approved to support the health information system portion of work, while DIAL is providing resources to support the core platform development. DIAL is one of the growing number of co-investors collaborating with Digital Square.

"At DIAL, we work hard to increase the reach and maturity of technology used in the international development & humanitarian sectors. One of the ways we do this is by advocating for more collaborative, targeted and sustainable funding. That’s why we’re so excited about the role Digital Square is playing in digital health. DIAL is pleased to join a growing field of donors to help both increase the amount of co-investment in digital health solutions and better leverage these investments as common resources that projects can use to collaborate and further their important work,” says Jake Watson, Senior Director, Platforms & Services, Digital Impact Alliance at United Nations Foundation.

Digital Square also supports global good implementers funded through the project by offering a basket of services to augment their implementations. These include community coordination, strategic communications workshops, and quality assurance support. We look to find economies of scale across multiple global goods to facilitate smarter investments. We also work to support the development of standards for interoperability to show common needs across multiple health verticals for data exchange. Many global goods face the same data exchange challenges. Digital Square works through standards development to identify common solutions to data exchange and other challenges for all implementers.

Challenges to Co-Investment

Even with the best intentions and herculean efforts of Digital Square, challenges remain. Probably the most obvious is the lack of available resources and the huge gap in funding needed to support global goods for health. Where resources are available, fiscal requirements from different funding streams funnel to Digital Square and the global good implementers we support, requiring global good support to be flexible, agile, and adaptable.

When Digital Square releases a call for proposals, we are not always able to say which specific donor regulations will have to be followed in the award implementation stage. This is because throughout a Notice cycle, we are constantly fundraising. It is not until we have all of the submitted proposals on the table that the Governing Board is able to make decisions on approved investments. We greatly value transparency, but we do face challenges in communicating donor requirements with partners when we do not know the funding requirements at the beginning of a notice process.

A final notable challenge is that a lot of investor money is tied up in specific country implementation work. Through Digital Square, we are trying to close the funding gap for global goods core software development and support to improve the enabling environment. Most mission driven investments in digital health do not allocate funding for these necessary efforts, but rather prioritize scaling that particular global good in one country. Again, through our advocacy efforts, we are hoping donors will see that by investing in the core software, they are impacting and accelerating deployment at the country-level with a much firmer ground for sustainability.

Digital Square matters

Digital Square cultivates an efficient, fair, and open marketplace of digital health solutions innovations by building on what works. We are committed to supporting investments for interoperable, adaptable digital health tools with the highest potential for success. By facilitating coordination and collaboration with partners, donors, and other stakeholders, we are helping to maximize the impact of every dollar spent in digital technologies. Through our unique Open Proposal Process, and engagement with donors and investors, we gain insight into the most promising tools and approaches, and accelerate collaboration in the development of critical digital health tools.  

Notice D will launch early next year. We encourage any and all global good implementers, stakeholders, and champions to participate. You can get involved in the vibrant global digital health community by submitting a concept note for an idea or giving feedback on the ideas posted to the Open Proposal Site.

Global Digital Health Forum: Washington, DC, Dec. 10-11

The Digital Square team, along with other members of PATH’s Digital Health Program will be joining colleagues and collaborators from around the world for the 2018 Global Digital Health Forum. This year, the Forum explores how new frameworks like the Classifications of Digital Health Interventions can help us design a shared language for digital health. With a shared language, digital health practitioners are better able to create holistic, seamless digital health systems that make use of different tools, partners, and workflows to meet the diverse and ever-changing needs of a country’s health care system.

Position Available: Project Administrator, Digital Square

PATH is currently recruiting for a Project Administrator (PADM) Officer for its Digital Health Program’s Digital Square team. The PADM Officer will manage the contractual and financial requirements of their assigned projects within Digital Square’s portfolio of awards. S/he will provide guidance to the technical team regarding U.S. Government Regulations on Contracts and Cooperative Agreements; ensure financial allowability, allocability, and reasonableness of costs; and provide oversight and guidance to financial management practices.

Digital Square Investing in 10 Proposals to Strengthen Digital Health Software Tools

Digital Square is pleased to announce that ten proposals were selected for investment as part of our second round of funding, Notice B. More information on the criteria for funding can be found in the Call for Proposals—Notice B, located on the Digital Square Wikipedia page. A total of $1.2 million is being invested into these digital health software tools. The funding recipients have also committed a total of $400,000 to co-invest alongside Digital Square’s funding.

Position Available: Consultant Drupal Developer, Digital Square

Job Description

PATH is an international organization that drives transformative innovation to save lives and improve health, especially among women and children. We accelerate innovation across five platforms-vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations-that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, we take innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. Together, we deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health.

PATH is currently recruiting a technical consultant the period June 8, 2018 – December 31, 2018; with a possibility of continuation upon performance assessment and funding availability

Background

Digital Square, an initiative within PATH’s Digital Health program, is one of PATH’s innovative responses to Global Health challenges to be a driver of change. Conceived from the lessons of the inefficiencies and redundancies of investments in digital technologies, Digital Square brings global and regional actors together to create a new way of thinking about, and a new way of doing, development. 

One of the most integral attributes of Digital Square is our ability to foster the creation, sustainability, and interoperability of global goods - digital solutions for health development. We do so through an open proposal process hosted on an Open Proposal Platform (OPP). Each round of funding is called a “Notice” cycle. Digital Square is preparing to begin Notice C and is in the process of building an OPP. The OPP is built in the coding language Drupal. Digital Square is looking for a Drupal developer to assist in the building, maintenance, and testing of the site before the launch of Notice C, on June 19, 2018, and through the lifecycle of the process, approximately six months for routine maintenance and upkeep support.

Specific Activities

  • Assist building Digital Square’s Open Proposal Site
    • Respond to the in-house developer’s questions
    • Initiate and participate in calls with the in-house developer and staff in regard to the OPP.
    • Identify and fix bugs in the system.
  • Assist in maintenance of Digital Square’s Open Proposal Site
    • Be available to trouble-shoot problems with the OPP during the full six-month Notice cycle.
    • Provide telephone and email support

Service availability

  • Telephone support: 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday- Friday PST
  • Email support: Monitored 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday-Friday PST
    • Emails received outside of office hours will be collected, however no action can be guaranteed until the next working day.
    • 24 hours (during business hours) for issues classified as High priority.
    • Within 48 hours for issues classified as Medium priority.
    • Within 4 working days for issues classified as Low priority.

Deliverables

  • Submit monthly detailed invoices showing amount of days worked
  • Submit monthly report providing short descriptions of the services provided with screen shots of issues solved, working links, and/or other demonstrations of work produced.
  • Assist in the creation of technical documentation for the OPP

Required Skills and Experience

  • Master’s degree in computer science preferred with a minimum seven years’ experience in web design
  • Demonstrated experience with Drupal, PHP, Perl, MySQL, PostgreSQL, relational database design, web application design
  • Experience consulting and delivering time-bound results
  • Demonstrated ability to produce clear written materials, track progress of activities and communicate information strategically
  • Must have legal authorization to work in the United States.

PATH is dedicated to building an inclusive workforce where diversity is valued.

PATH is an equal opportunity employer. Every qualified applicant will be considered for employment. PATH does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, age, national origin, marital status, disability status, political ideology, military or protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

OpenLMIS Version 3.3 – Foundational Features to Support Immunization Supply Chains

The latest release of the OpenLMIS software, version 3.3, is a major accomplishment for the Initiative and for immunization stakeholders globally.

This release is the result of collaboration across organizations and countries to imagine, define, and build standards-based software that truly meets the needs of immunization programs and helps make life saving vaccines available when and where they’re most needed.

The OpenLMIS 3.3 release debuts a foundational feature set specifically for  supporting immunization programs in managing the transactional movements of vaccines and cold chain inventory within multi-level supply chains. New features allow for greater visibility, accountability, and efficiency in vaccine management.

Position Available: Deputy Director of Operations, Digital Square

Tracking Code: 8787

Job Description

*Please include a cover letter with your resume describing your interest and how you meet the qualifications. Your application can be submitted here. 

PATH is an international organization that drives transformative innovation to save lives and improve health, especially among women and children. We accelerate innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, we take innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. Together, we deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health.

PATH’s Digital Health Program is dedicated to scaling Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in lower/middle income countries (LMICs).  Our work is focused on supporting countries to use digital technology and data use approaches to accelerate and amplify their health investments, goals and outcomes. An important driver and component of that work is the digital transformation of global health itself. PATH’s Digital Health program works with government ministries of health, the information and communication technology sector, the global health sector and donors to improve the use of digital technologies and data for improved health services, systems and financing, and the information systems, technologies and enabling environment factors that improve the availability and quality of those technologies and the data they support.

Digital Square, an initiative within PATH’s Digital Health program, is one of PATH’s innovative responses to Global Health challenges to be a driver of change. Conceived from the lessons of the inefficiencies and redundancies of investments in digital technologies, Digital Square brings global and regional actors together to create a new way of thinking about, and a new way of doing, development.  

Based in Washington, DC, the Deputy Director for Operations will be a key member of the Digital Square leadership team. S/he will support both the day-to-day management and administration of the Digital Square program as well as provide support to the Director of Operations for the Digital Health Portfolio, based in Seattle, WA, as a key member of the overall Operations team within the Digital Health program.

Responsibilities

  • Develop and/or refine existing systems, processes and norms for award and subaward management in line with PATH and donor policies.
  • Accountable for all donor communications, management of donor deliverables, and ensuring appropriate PATH approvals. Oversight of all donor management communications including but not limited to: weekly calls, narrative and financial reporting, ad hoc requests.
  • Oversee and coordinate the administration of Digital Square sub-awards to partner for investments in Global Goods.
  • Communicate, coordinate, and negotiate with internal and external partners, donors, and stakeholders, and keep both Digital Square and the Digital Health program leadership apprised of project changes and milestone delays.
  • Proactively manage changes in project scope and create contingency plans in a constantly changing environment.
  • Advise the Digital Square team on best practices around project implementation and ensure compliance in every aspect of project implementation.
  • Manage the Digital Square Project Administrator.
  • Contribute to business development activities including program strategy, proposal management, cost & compliance, and technical proposal development for Digital Square.

Required Experience

  • Master’s degree in management preferred.
  • At least 7-10 years’ experience in full-scope project or program management, preferably in the global health field.
  • Experience working in and with developing countries.
  • Strong background in project management, financial management, project reporting and risk management tools.
  • Demonstrated experience implementing complex, multi-country projects, preferably within an international NGO.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in either written or oral form.
  • Demonstrated ability to work well with cross-functional, cross-geographical teams to accomplish objectives.
  • Advanced computer skills, including MS Project, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SalesForce, SmartSheet, and SharePoint.
  • Ability to travel domestically and internationally 20-50 percent of the time.
  • Must be fluent in English.

Must have legal authorization to work in the United States.

PATH is dedicated to building an inclusive workforce where diversity is valued.

PATH is an equal opportunity employer. Every qualified applicant will be considered for employment. PATH does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, age, national origin, marital status, disability status, political ideology, military or protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

 

 

 

 

 

Job Location

Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Company Location

United States, Washington, D.C.

Position Type

Full-Time/Regular

What to watch in 2018 in digital health: Conversations from the Global Digital Health Forum

Last month, more than 550 individuals in the digital health field – representing ministries of health, implementing organizations, and other partners – met for the fourth annual Global Digital Health Forum (GDHF) in Washington, DC. The conference, which experienced a 30 percent increase in participation from 2016, has established itself as a landmark annual event in the space. Over the course of three days, speakers and participants engaged in over 80 sessions, roundtables, and workshops to share lessons learned and best practices.