On August 19, 2023, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) announced a new initiative to operationalize the implementation of the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 and to further enable digital health system transformation. The Global Initiative on Digital Health (“GIDH”) is a WHO managed network of stakeholders organized to facilitate the implementation of WHO norms and standards for digital health system transformation and to enable a global ecosystem to promote country capacity and strengthen international cooperation in digital health. The GIDH aims to amplify recent and past gains in global digital health while strengthening mutual accountability to enhance the impact of future investments.
Released in 2021, the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 (“the Global Strategy”) was published to guide member states’ efforts to strengthen health systems through the application of digital health technologies for consumers and other health care system actors. The Global Strategy established four strategic objectives to guide member states towards the sustainable adoption of digital health technologies:
- promote global collaboration and advance the transfer of knowledge on digital health;
- advance the implementation of national digital health strategies;
- strengthen governance for digital health at global, regional, and national levels; and
- advocate people-centered health systems that are enabled by digital health. To implement the strategic objectives, the Global Strategy also proposed policy recommendations and established a framework to provide a structure for action and tools for collaboration.
The GIDH will prioritize several core areas of work and will specifically focus on four foundational pillars:
- Country Needs Tracker: The GIDH will create a tracker to ensure digital health investments are informed by country priorities;
- Country Resource Portal: The GIDH will work to identify traditional and innovative resource opportunities, enhance transparency and reduce risk of duplication, and enable a standards-based prospective and retrospective analysis of resourcing gaps in digital health;
- Transformation Toolbox: The GIDH will identifyquality-assured tools and resources that strengthen country capacity and autonomy to manage their national digital health transformation journey; and
- Convening and Knowledge Exchange: The GIDH will promote strengthened collaboration and knowledge exchange across global, regional, and national networks in digital health.
In addition, the GIDH will work to address variability in the quality of digital solutions and emerging technologies related to standards, data privacy, security, and interoperability by amplifying identified best practices, open standards, and quality-assured building blocks.
The GIDH identifies future expected outcomes including 1) to increase transparency and alignment on availability and reporting of digital health resources and unfunded priorities and 2) to improve alignment and collaboration on standards based and technical assistance between countries to support national digital health transformation.
The GIDH contains guidelines for international governance structures and proposals to enable digital health solutions. The Global Strategy proposes policy recommendations, including for stakeholders, to scale up and accelerate progress on digital health innovation. They may be helpful to inform organizations’ internal policies on digital health technologies and compliance with international regulatory frameworks. In members states participating in GIDH, the initiative may provide an opportunity for organizations to engage with government and to inform policies on digital health.
International and nation-specific developments in digital health will likely continue with the accelerated development of artificial intelligence in health care and innovative digital health technologies. Follow Crowell Health Solutions’ Trends in Transformation blog for the latest updates and analysis.