Precision Global Health in the Digital Age

2018-07-15T02:57:28+00:00July 4th, 2018|

Sharing a recent experience on digital health by Samia Laokri.

The complexity of health systems, including global health players and practices, calls for a greater use of integrated and multisectoral approaches to global health. In this frame, one can raise the potential role of novel technologies and practices in the provision of equitable access to quality care. Over the past years, the global health community has seen an explosion in the use of mobile technology (mHealth) and other programs promoting electronic innovations (eHealth) to improve patients’ care-seeking pathways and population’s health. A wide array of digital technologies and strategies has indeed revolutionized various aspects of our society. Health is definitely not the exception. Solutions, or part of the solutions, to several key health systems constraints are hoped to be found in the digital revolution era. For instance, greater access to information, especially in remote settings, may speed up the decisions and possibly allow real-time policy-making. Among the definitions circulating for digital health, one embraces all techniques that refer to hardware, software, communication channels, Internet, mobile for care services delivery, health financing, health education, supply chain, program M&E or data collection.

How much access do we have to information, and to preventive care, diagnosis and treatment services? How can the digital revolution realize its promises? Moreover, what do these promises look like in practice? These are vital questions in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the digital medium. To cover the issue, I have been exploring available evidence on the impact of recent digital innovations on health practices and access to care. In this study, I was interested in highlighting the role of novel technologies developed for rapid diagnostic testing, diagnosis accuracy, e-notification, medication adherence, etc. to tackle the new global health challenges, and in particular reducing the economic burden of disease.

A recent Geneva Health Forum (10-12 April 2018) held in Geneva, Switzerland was fully dedicated to Precision Global Health in the Digital Age. During the event, various stakeholders from academia, international organizations, start-up companies, private partners and NGOs exchanged their views and discussed plethora of innovative practices in digital health “with aiming to showcase innovative, accessible and sustainable practices in order to facilitate access and health equity”. The I³h team took part in it with two studies presented as poster communications: 1) Exploring the impact of novel technologies in Tuberculosis control, and 2) Fostering interdisciplinary to educate the next generation of global health actors.

Link to the communications