October 3, 2018 Global Digital Health Network Meeting

Going further together—this was spirit of the recent Global Digital Health Network meeting, which focused on the role of communities of practice (CoP) in achieving digital health objectives.Hosted by PATH on October 3, 2018, the meeting included in person and virtual participants in a lively 90 minute webinar including discussion. Presenters shared lessons learned, best practices, and future visions for different CoP operating in the digital health space.

 

Kicking off the meeting, Amanda BenDor from PATH and Carl Fourie from Jembi had a “coffee-style” chat about the inaugural OpenHIE meeting in Arusha, Tanzania. The week-long event included an unconferencing approach that gave participants a say in shaping the agenda on site and sharing issues most pressing to them.  The meeting also featured site visits to health facilities in the area to see interoperability in action, and a HacKonectALearnThon that allowed participants to look under hood of the technologies and explore facilitation of interoperability. You can read more reflections about the OpenHIE meeting in a recent blog post here.  

 

From OpenLMIS we heard from Rebecca Alban at Village Reach about best practices and challenges in shaping a community comprised of donors, implementers and technology partners around open source logistics management information systems. From dedicating time and resources to translation, member on-boarding, and in-person meetings to ensure member buy-in, and as a result community benefit, to holding monthly donor meetings to align expectations and next steps, OpenLMIS is working through many of the challenges we face in public health—both on- and off-line.

 

The final presenter was Paul Biondich from Regenstrief Institute. Understanding that health is an information business, OpenMRS members work to improve health care delivery in resource constrained environments through improvements in medical records. Given the range of settings in which healthcare is delivered, this can vary quite a bit from one setting to another, and requires flexible solutions to meet the needs. OpenMRS serves as a platform for record systems, but members have worked to have it  behave more like an application via distributions or pre-packaged versions that work for different healthcare cases. This flexibility helps address a range of use cases, including a fully integrated hospital information system to and EMR with country-specific MOH requirements. One of the most buzzed about topics from the day was a slide that detailed the cost savings in R&D and development generated from the active OpenMRS community.

 

At the heart of each of these CoPs are the dedicated community members who share their time and expertise to grow digital health global public goods. Safeguarding these investments and sharing across these platforms will need to be a priority in order for these global goods to meet the needs of the growing number of countries investing in digital health solutions.