Navigating digital transformation—8 trends defining the future of global digital health

Whether on the political, scientific, or cultural front, the world today is in a state of flux. Reviews from BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte, and Accenture highlight major demographic shifts, the increasing importance of technology in health, and the convergence of business and technical considerations. Digital platforms and solutions are emerging as a source of hope, inspiration, and connection.

The Digital Health team at PATH has spent the last year reviewing global analyses, listening to end users and partners in the field, and exchanging perspectives throughout the global digital health community about issues that are both driving and impacting the global health sector.

The 2017 Global Digital Health Forum–Celebrating new ways of thinking for global digital health

The annual Global Digital Health Forum is scheduled for December 4-6th in Washington DC.  Though the Forum features amazing presentations every year, one of the most valuable aspects of this event is having the world’s digital health implementers, donors, and champions in one space.  The dialogue and strong relationship building between ministries of health leaders, technical developers, and other players in our field is what makes this conference special.

This year’s theme – The Evolving Digital Health Landscape: Progress, Achievements and Remaining Frontiers – captures the spirit of progress made in the past several years to improve digital health systems and takes a critical look at the continued need for innovation to improve health outcomes. PATH joins the Forum once again to share our experiences and technical knowledge through a variety of workshops and presentations.

What is a global good? Harnessing DHIS 2 to strengthen HIV/AIDS reporting in DRC

Capturing health information data is essential to track patient services, manage resources, and support decision-making in a health system. Digital systems can improve accuracy of data captured, increase visibility throughout the health system, and enable new kinds of analytics that are costly or difficult with paper-based systems. However, implementation of robust digital health information systems is not easy in resource-constrained countries. One notable challenge to building digital health systems is the relatively low level of digital access in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For example, less than 5% of the DRC population uses the internet, and less than 40% have a mobile SIM card

What is a "global good"?

By Carl Leitner

Too often, “innovation” in the fields of health and information communications technology (ICT) is equated with the creation of something entirely new. Instead of re-inventing a technology or solution that already exists—which leads to duplication and waste—we can leverage those that already exists.

Digital Square believes there’s innovation in building upon existing tools that we know work and bringing these tools together in new ways to address health system priorities. Global goods are digital health tools that are proven to deliver results and which can be used in multiple countries and contexts. Often open-source, these tools should be easy to implement, scale, and be interoperable across commonly used systems.

Digital Square is coordinating investments in global goods to help ensure they have reliable funding streams. These investments sustain high-quality products that are a part of the national health information infrastructure and allow for continued growth in functionality according to countries’ needs. OpenLMIS is an example of a global good solution. It’s an open-source, customizable, and tested electronic logistics management information system. OpenLMIS supports facilities in low-resource settings to ensure they have the resources and commodities they need such as: medicines, immunizations, and other medical supplies. Without tools like OpenLMIS, supply chain systems have to rely on pen-and-paper data collection which causes delays and errors in the supply chain.

Global goods matter not only because they cut down on fragmentation and duplication in the health sector and beyond. They matter because when they’re scaled appropriately, global goods save lives and are positively impacting the health of people around the world.

If you’re interested in making a global good investment, telling us about a global good that has been successful, or simply learning more, connect with the Digital Square team at digitalsquare@path.org.

Welcome to Digital Square

Lesley-Anne Long

Last week we launched Digital Square, a new global initiative connecting the world for better health.

Development dollars are scarce. Digital Square introduces an innovative approach to funding in the health sector. It’s a simple but powerful concept called co-investment. Through co-investment, we maximize the impact of digital health financing from individuals and organizations in public and private sectors.

We direct these investments into reusable, adaptable technology solutions—called global goods—that have been proven to work. Digital Square then helps to bring those global goods to scale in developing countries and create an environment in which they can be sustained.

The result? Fewer siloes. Better connected health systems. Better data, leading to more informed decision-making, and ultimately, better health outcomes.

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Over the next four years, Digital Square will work with its partners to strengthen health systems in multiple countries to help improve the health of more than 400 million people by 2030.

It’s a bold vision and, we believe, an achievable one. To reach our goal, we need people to come together, and minds to meet to exchange ideas, inspire action, and create game-changing solutions.

A town square is a place where people meet and tap into the collective energy of the community. Digital Square provides such a space for the global health sector. With our partners, we connect in the Digital Square to seed and grow big ideas.

Welcome to Digital Square. You can join our community by following us on twitter @DigitalSQR, or connecting with us at digitalsquare@path.org. We look forward to meeting you!