Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Health
The potential for harnessing digital technology to meet health challenges is evident. Mobile technology is the fastest adopted technology of all time, with mobile cellular penetration exploding from less than 1% in 1991, to 99.7% in 2016. There will be an estimated 5.6 billion smartphones by 2020, with around 90% of growth coming from low- and middle-income countries.
Despite its potential, the digital health landscape is highly fragmented. The myriad of digital health solutions and applications rarely reach scale, and do not always address priority health problems or integrate into national health systems.
Since 2016, the Novartis Foundation has had the honor of chairing the Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital Health. Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation, is the only health-focused Commissioner on the wider Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
The Working Group convenes the world’s top experts to develop recommendations for how policymakers and other stakeholders can develop sustainable digital health solutions that address national health priorities. Only then can digital health truly accelerate Universal Health Coverage and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3.
The Working Group’s 2017 report, Digital Health: A Call for Government Leadership and Cooperation between ICT and Health, created a blueprint for how ICT and health leaders and policymakers can collaborate to develop national digital health strategies.
The Working Group’s 2018 report, The Promise of Digital Health, builds on the earlier work. It provides practical recommendations and best practice examples of how policymakers can implement sustainable digital health solutions that address NCDs in low- and middle-income countries, therefore accelerating Universal Health Coverage and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.