Coronavirus (946) 3 Lessons Learned Implementing Digital Health Systems During COVID-19

26 August, 2020

Extracts below, with thanks to ICT Works and D-Tree International. Full text here: https://www.ictworks.org/lessons-learned-implementing-responsive-digital...

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In early 2020, when COVID-19 emerged as a global pandemic and urgent public health crisis, countries all over the world scrambled to develop a rapid and effective response to limit the introduction of COVID-19 through their borders and slow the spread of community transmission...

As the months wore on and COVID-19 spread to all corners of the world, the realization of the need for digital health as an integral part of health systems was dramatically amplified...

3 Lessons Learned Deploying Responsive Health Systems...

Lesson 1: There is no one-size-fits-all solution...

It is imperative that governments, and any organization working with them, evaluate multiple potential solutions in order to determine what might be most appropriate for the local context...

Key Takeaway: Recognize the need to tailor digital systems to the local context, and funding must be available to support these processes.

Lesson 2: Existing health workers and digital infrastructure are critical...

Access to smartphones. Smartphones support a much broader range of functionality than a basic feature phone and would therefore be ideal for the complexity of the COVID response, but a majority of health workers do not have access to these devices...

Key Takeaway: Work to expedite the development and scale-up of national digital health systems for frontline health workers providing essential health services.

Lesson 3: Stand-alone technology solutions will fail

There is a big push to find the best technology solutions to support the COVID-19 response. This is understandable, given the significant potential that technology offers. However, lessons from digital health programs globally show that simply introducing a mobile app, no matter how powerful it may be, will not lead to improved health.

Digital health programs can reach their full potential only if they are fully integrated within a broader health system; the government demonstrates strong political commitment to implementing a digital tool; strong capacity-building processes are established; and there is buy-in from all stakeholders who are responsible for making the system work - including frontline healtth workers, supervisors, district health teams, and national ministries of health...

Key takeaway: Invest in long-term health systems strengthening efforts, resulting in responsive and resilient health systems.

There is a critical need to look beyond the “app” or “solution” to a more holistic approach...

If we can be collaborative in our efforts, holistic in our approach, and urgent in our response, we can do more than just introduce cutting-edge technology�we can make it work for all,, ultimately leading to improved health and wellbeing worldwide...

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Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org