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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.