Global Digital Health Network Inaugural Bay Area Meeting, September 2017

On September 20th, The Global Digital Health Network hosted our first West Coast meeting! Thanks to Premiere Data for hosting this inaugural Bay Area event. Rather than our typical monthly meeting format, we chose instead to have nearly a dozen speakers give lightning talks to introduce their work and kickstart a morning of networking and discussion. Speakers included:



Premise: Working in 30 countries since inception five years ago, Human-directed and machine-refined, Premise indexes and analyzes millions of observations captured daily by a global network of contributors, unearthing connections that impact global decisions.

With deployments mostly in LMICs, they strive to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems via their technology to show ground truth and influence decision making (high quality, faster decision processes) through a patient-centric process.


USAID, Center for Innovation and Impact (CII): CII applies business-minded approaches to the development, introduction and scale-up of health interventions to accelerate impact against the world's most important health challenges. The Center – which resides in the Global Health Bureau – invests seed capital in the most promising ideas and applies a rigorous, market-oriented approach to cut the time it takes to transform discoveries in the lab to impact on the ground: identify cutting-edge practices, catalyze innovation, and scale for impact. The center looks for high impact solutions that will get to market relatively immediately (2 years-ish timeline) and shared best practices and knowledge to increase the footprint of global health discussions, particularly through private sector engagement.


PATH:  With more than 30 years of experience across 70 countries and through 2000 partners and employees, PATH develops and implements appropriate and cost-effective health technology in low-resource settings, PATH is a leader in the development of technology that addresses user requirements and is appropriate to local needs. PATH formed the Digital Health Solutions (formerly Health Management Information Systems) team in 2008. The Digital Health Solutions team continues this tradition by providing ICT products and services that start with the end user, and by delivering or helping to source architected solutions that meet local needs and can scale nationally or globally.  PATH is host of the Health Data Collaborative,  secretariat of the Digital Health Interoperability Technical Working Group, and home to the new large and robust Digital Square initiative with over 40 partners supporting “trending collaboration” to push country ownership forward and scale solutions on the ground.


Youth, Tech and Health (YTH): believes that young people deserve honest information, deserve for their voice to be heard, and deserve to live healthy lives without shame or fear. YTH is committed to pursuing emerging, startling, and sometimes, simple technologies that can reach young people where they are. They have coined the term “youth centered health design” to create digital solutions, measure and evaluate trends in the space specifically related to youth, and conduct formal research on how young people engage in technology.  Through their partnerships and projects, they discover what works, pilot innovative solutions, and disseminate what’s truly effective. YTH works to drive change by creating, evaluating, and refining technology solutions and providing partners with proven models ready for scale and replication. They also build the capacity of the community to advance youth health by providing research, training, idea generation, and expert advice. Join their conference May 6-7 in San Francisco to celebrate their 10th anniversary.


NetHope:  joins the world’s largest nonprofits with technology innovators worldwide. We act as a catalyst for productive collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving to reimagine how technology can improve our world. Through their Center for the Digital Nonprofit, they provide tools for international non-profit organizations to “do better” through a public-private partnership model to foster cross-sector collaboration.


Medic Mobile: Since their launch in 2010, Medic Mobile has been a leader in the field developing technology tools to connecting more than 13,000 community health workers supporting over 8 million patients. The Medic Mobile toolkit combines decision support for frontline care, prioritization for home visits and follow-ups, smart messaging, and actionable analytics for managers. The tools we build are free, open-source, and deployed at scale in the last mile of healthcare. Evidence-based workflows come together in the software to support health workers and families – helping to ensure safe deliveries, track outbreaks, treat illnesses door-to-door, keep stock of essential medicines, communicate about emergencies, and more.


IDEO: Is a global design company working to create positive impact. Since 1991, they have built more than 23 agile design capabilities to improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities. While most of their work is based in SubSaharan Africa, the idea of IDEO grew out of physical product design, with questions rooted in ethnography to understand people’s unique perspectives to functionality challenges.


Vital Wave: The Bay-area based professional services firm specializes in devising strategies to facilitate entrance by foundation, international development and government into emerging markets. Over the past 12 years, they have applied business rigor to assess opportunity, implement solutions and foster best practices through a three-pronged approach: strategy and advocacy, implementation and management, and optimization and institutionalization. Along with the USAID Knowledge for Health Project (K4Health), they are currently supporting a East African Digital Health Roadmap Initiative, and also working with the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL)  on a guide to scale for organizations in the 3-5 year mark who may be stuck at pilot stage but with demonstrated successful impact of their work.


Hesperian: They may be best-known for “Where there is no doctor”, a pocket guide available in multiple languages for health at village-level where there is a lacking healthcare infrastructure - the bible of many Peace Corps Volunteers. Hesperian develops content with an open copyright approach to make meaningful health content available to all to be repurposed. This includes a significant image library and HealthWiki offered in 14 languages.


Abt Associates: is a social science research and implementation organization working in 60 countries with approximately 2800 employees spread across development areas. Within health, they focus both across topics and digital solutions including how to leverage blockchain technology to identify and engage populations in using digital  financial tools.


For a very quick recap of the essence of each presentation, Pam summarized presenters:


  • Ideo: Need for more hybrid insights and solutions. Data tells us what but not why;
  • Premise: Importance of being patient-centric and looking to tech to address patient need:
  • USAID: Value of increasing visibility of the global health agenda in the bay area;
  • Hesperian: Value of user-testing and working collaboratively on research
  • VW: How do we build more cross-sector collaboration?;
  • PATH: Value in global collaborations going on, points to new challenges and shows the maturity of the field;
  • YTH: Focus on youth-empowerment and use of digital tools for youth;
  • NetHope: Basic connectivity is still a challenge, still so many gaps;
  • Medic Mobile: Equity lens - are the tools we are all providing really hitting the full spectrum of the populations we aim to serve?