Across the Novartis Foundation’s work, digital health tools are powering initiatives that are person-centered, integrated and sustainable at scale.
Digital technology has revolutionized virtually every aspect of life, and healthcare is no exception. Digital tools are an important enabler to innovating healthcare delivery, improving efficiency and quality, enhancing health system governance, and improving monitoring of outcomes and accountability. All of which have important implications for advancing the World Health Organization’s goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
From raising disease awareness to screening, diagnosis and monitoring, digital health technology can support healthcare providers and empower patients along the entire care pathway. It also enables healthcare managers to make timely, evidence-based decisions and can reduce costs while improving the overall quality of care. Simple approaches leveraging available technologies, such as mobile phones, can be some of the most successful.
Unsustainable funding, high upfront capital expenditures, lack of personnel qualified in digital technology application, and poor collaboration between the health and ICT sectors are some of the many challenges in implementing digital health solutions and initiatives. The result is a proliferation of uncoordinated digital health projects, unnecessary duplication and data silos, which undermine the potential impact of using digital tools to improve health programing.
Governments must play a critical role in overcoming these challenges through better stewardship and leadership. To realize the full potential of digital health, solutions must be integrated into national health systems and guided by overall health system strategies. These strategies can facilitate connectivity and interoperability, establish common standards, and enable appropriate policies and regulations in digital health. Multidisciplinary partnerships are then crucial for implementation, with strong management and direction.
Increasing access, efficiency and quality of care by centralizing expertise and empowering frontline healthcare workers.