Each edition of the Novartis Foundation newsletter begins with an update from Ann Aerts, the head of the Novartis Foundation. In this edition, Ann provides an overview of the important role that digital health technology is playing in global health provision.
We often think of technology creating better, faster, more advanced healthcare solutions in developed countries. Yet digital health solutions have, in fact, shown great promise and potential in low- and middle-income countries as well. The tools needed to support healthcare delivery are already widespread and widely used – on average, around 8 in 10 people in developing economies own a mobile phone, and the number is steadily rising.
Mobile devices are an ideal way to reach people in these countries to improve healthcare. They can help remove barriers to accessing care, improve care delivery for both healthcare providers and patients, empower patients through targeted messaging, and collect real-time data to optimize resources and decision-making.
But just having the technology in place isn’t enough – we need to learn how to use it to deliver care that is sustainable and scalable, and improves outcomes for patients.
Therefore, it is critical that we share knowledge on how best to use technology to improve patient reach and quality of care in a way that is scalable for the longer term. That’s why we co-hosted a dialogue event together with the Ministry of Health Ghana and the Ghana Health Service on digital health in Accra in June. There, we heard diverse experiences across Africa on how to achieve impact at scale.
You can read more about the event and its outcomes in this edition of our newsletter. And you can also download a short visual summary of our digital health efforts in this infographic (PDF 214 KB).
At the Novartis Foundation, we pioneer innovative healthcare models in collaboration with our partners around the world. In Ghana, we have worked with our partners to establish a telemedicine project that connects healthcare workers in rural areas to experts. To learn more about our work in telemedicine, view our factsheet (PDF 220 KB) and animated video.
Access to healthcare is a challenge for the majority of people living in low- and middle-income countries. The Novartis Foundation believes that digital health tools can help overcome this challenge.
Between 2012 and 2014, we ran a pilot telemedicine project in a district in Ghana, working alongside the Ghanaian government, Millennium Promise through the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Sony Ericsson and Airtel.
Our telemedicine project connects community health workers to the nearest hospital via mobile phones, reducing transport times and costs for patients in remote areas, and avoiding unnecessary referrals.
Working with our partners, we have taken this successful pilot project to scale, enabling access to this innovative service across the entire district, and beyond.