• Leadership
  • Safe, seamless, secure: Australia's digital health strategy

    There’s no doubt about Australia’s vision for its eHealth: safe, seamless and secure: evolving health and care to meet the country’s modern needs. Produced by the Australian Digital Health Agency  (ADHA), Australia's National Digital Health strategy up to 2022 has seven strategic priorities to support the option for every citizen to have their own “My Health Record”:

    • Health information available whenever and wherever it is needed
    • Health information that can be exchanged securely
    • High-quality data with a commonly understood meaning that can be used with confidence
    • Better availability and access to prescriptions and medicines information
    • eHealth-enabled models of care that improve accessibility, quality, safety and efficiency
    • A workforce confidently using eHealth technologies to deliver health and healthcare
    • A thriving eHealth industry delivering world-class innovation
    • Safe, seamless and secure: evolving health and health care to meet the needs of modern Australia.

    It sets out six Critical Success Factors (CSF) too:

    • Trust and security assurance
    • Commitment, cooperation and collaboration across all governments to leverage existing assets and capabilities to avoid duplication and speed up benefits realisation
    • Establishing legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks
    • Strong consumer and clinician engagement and governance
    • Effective governance and leadership
    • Learning from others.

    A core concept’s that eHealth’s information is the “bedrock of high quality healthcare.” Its five patient benefits are significant and compelling:

    • Avoided hospital admissions
    • Fewer adverse drug events
    • Reduced test duplication
    • Better care coordination for people with chronic and complex conditions
    • Better informed treatment decisions.

    The strategy builds on considerable eHealth progress. About 20% of the population have a “My Health Record.” An estimated 98% will have one in 2018. Many already access their health information from My Health Record using mobile apps.

    It will help to overcome the challenge of disjointed and hard to navigate care for people with chronic conditions. Developing new models of care are being constructed on their EHRs.

    A National Cancer Screening Register will create a single view for Australians participating in cervical and bowel cancer screening. It will integrate with GP clinical information systems to help GPs to identify patients’ screening eligibility and history to support real-time clinical decision-making.

    Recognition of the risk of uncoordinated eHealth investment may not meet a common set of standards shows the strategies realism. A combination of agreed priorities underpinned by standards is a signal to the market about the role of priorities of eHealth vendors.

    Enabling the exchange of high-quality data between healthcare providers and the systems is a core goal, so semantic interoperability (IOp) is a high priority. It includes co-ordination between people, organisations and systems. The goal is to preserve data’s meaning when it’s shared between people and systems and one context to another, so information is used and interpreted in the same way.

    The Global Open Data Index produced by Open Knowledge International (OKFN) recently ranked Australia number one in the world for its open data policies that create an IOp environment and using data assets as a national resource.

    There are many lessons for Africa’s eHealth. One is the way that eHealth strategies can build on one before and its implementation and lessons.


  • DG for Health Precious Matsoso to open eHealthAFRO 2017

    Ms Malebona Precious Matsoso will open eHealthAFRO 2017. She is passionate about eHealth's transformative potential and believes that achieving "UHC depends on effective, patient-centred eHealth". We are thrilled to confirm that she has accepted our invitation to open the conference with a personal address and perspective on eHealth in South Africa.


    Ms Matsoso is no stranger to eHealth, information systems and their role in transforming health and healthcare. She has led South Africa’s eHealth strategy and its current review. The overarching objectives that place eHealth in a core role to support Universal Health Coverage (UHC) are challenging to achieve. Her leadership is essential in securing these for the long term. Her vision sets the context for the provinces and local health services for their eHealth endeavours.



    Ms Matsoso drives the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) that I have the honour of serving on, alongside ten South African eHealth leaders. She recognises that eHeath is essential to achieve better health for all and is leading the MAC to ensure that South Africa's eHealth will support health transformation, helping sustain the health of South Africans in line with international good practice.


    The conference theme “eHealth for UHC” emphasises UHC’s dependence on effective, patient-centred eHealth. Ms Matsoso sets the direction and a realistic timescales for successful eHealth.


    Ms Matsoso was appointed Director General of the National Department of Health (NDOH) by the President of South Africa on 08 June 2010. She serves under the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. 

    She holds a degree in Pharmacy, a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Management from the University of Cape Town, and a Masters degree in Law and Ethics (LLM) from the University of Dundee. Her career has included posts as Head of Medicines Control Council (MCC), member of the National Research Ethics Council of South Africa, and the Director of the Essential Drugs and Traditional Medicines Programme for the South African Health Department. She was a Director in Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property (PHI) in the office of the Director General, of the World Health Organisation (WHO) serving as WHO Secretariat on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. She served as the Chair of the Executive Board at World Health Organization from 2015 to 2016.


    Ms Matsoso has a bold vision for health transformation and we look forward to her comments when she opens eHealthAFRO 2017.

    Get your tickets here.

    #eHA2017 #AreYouReady?




  • England’s NHS spending on a digital academy

    Developing eHealth leaders is an essential component of successful eHealth. NHS England has announced it’s creating the NHS Digital Academy. Its goal’s to train and develop informatics capabilities for Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO). The one year programme’ll provide specialist ICT training and development support to 300 senior clinicians and health managers.

    It implements the recommendation in a report from the National Advisory Group on Health  Information Technology  in England, lead by its chair, Prof Robert Wachter, chair of University of California, San Francisco  Department of Medicine. The report identified a shortage of CCIO and CIO professionals who can advance eHealth transformation. Harnessing the Power of Health Information Technology to Improve Care in England proposed spending of £42m, about US$55m, €46m, to strengthen and expand CCIOs’ capacity, especially in informatics, and health ICT professionals. It’s about 1% of the England’s £4.2b eHealth plan. It’s about 0.04% of NHS England’s total spending.

    NHS Digital Academy will have three main partners in the initiative, Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and Harvard Medical School. Part of the programme’s remit’s to support the development of vibrant professional societies for clinician and non-clinician informaticians, informatics researchers, programme evaluators and system optimisers. It’ll be mainly online, with some residential events.

    eHealth success needs many other leaders across the whole reach of programmes. It seems that their development needs are not part of this initiative. NHS England already has its Leadership Academy.

    Can Africa’s health systems start a journey towards this? Several Universities across Africa already provide health informatics degrees. Several Africans attend the Master’s in e-Health Management course at Rome Business School, supported by Acfee, which also provides Future eHealth Leaders events, including pre-conference workshops at this year’s eHealthAFRO 2017. While modest compared to NHS England’s initiatives, these combine into a start-point for eHealth leadership capacity.

  • SAVE THE DATE! eHealthAFRO 2017 Southern Africa 2-4 October 2017

    We are thrilled to announce dates and the venue for this year's eHealthAFRO Southern Africa 2017 conference.

    2 - 4 October 2017
    Emperors Palace, Johannesburg


    The event will be hosted by the South African National Department of Health (NDoH) in collaboration with an Acfee-led consortium of leading eHealth organisations, including Health Information Systems Program-SA (HISP-SA), the South African Health Informatics Association (SAHIA) HealthEnabled, and a growing array of partners.

    An extensive pre-conference programme will run at the Emperors Palace from 27 September 2017. Themes, programme, speakers and much more will be pushed through to the conference website in a regular series of releases building up to the event.

    Join us for an unforgettable event, where healthcare professionals, government leaders and industry stakeholders explore tangible eHealth opportunities and eHealth excellence in Southern Africa. eHealthAFRO 2017 will empower participants to advance eHealth in the region by showcasing proven strategies, best practice and real-world learning to realise measurable benefits for patients, communities, clinicians, and the industry as a whole.

    The event has an extended programme of seminars, an academic programme and high-level policy meetings to discuss and build a roadmap for eHealth to move forward in the region. 

    -------------------------------------


    NDoH is the government department responsible for health service delivery in South Africa. It's vision is "a long and healthy life for all South Africans". Its mission is "to improve health status through the prevention of illnesses and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and to consistently improve healthcare delivery system by focusing on access, equity, efficiency, quality and sustainability". 

    Acfee is an African network of eHealth experts. Acfee develops eHealth capacity and leadership for African countries to support improved health outcomes for our people. Acfee leads the eHealthAFRO 2017 initiative.

    HISP-SA develops and implements sustainable and integrated Health Information Systems that empower communities, healthcare workers and decision makers to improve the coverage, quality and efficiency of health services. 

    SAHIA is an independent organisation formed to promote the professional application of Health Informatics in South Africa. SAHIA is a member of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA). 

    HealthEnabled is an Africa-based non-profit. They are digital health architects that help governments and other health organisations integrate proven life-saving digital health interventions into their health systems at scale.

  • The next WHO DG is from Africa - are these the main challenges and opportunities?

    It’s with considerable pride that eHNA can post about WHO’s next Director-General’s from Africa. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister of Ethiopia, will be WHO’s next Director-General (DG). He’s the first African to lead the UN agency.

     

    The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked global health experts and charity leaders what the new DG’s priorities should be. Their answers are in an article in allAfrica.

     

    He’ll immediately be confronted by an extensive array of urgent, long-term public health challenges. They include:

    • Outbreaks of highly infectious global epidemics such as Ebola, cholera, yellow fever, Zika and MERS
    • Global rise in Non-communicable Diseases (NCD), such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease
    • Impact of stress and hardship on mental health and wellbeing
    • Continuing fight against HIV, malaria, TB and maternal, adolescent and child health.

    WHO must also help drive Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and bridge the divides between global, national and local communities’ health systems. These can determine the courses of outbreaks or health risks.

    Health challenges start and end in communities, so the new DG must be ready to put people at the centre. One way’s to give local communities a seat at the global public health table to contribute to building a stronger, more resilient and healthier world.

    Building on Africa’s health ministers’ recent eHealth leadership initiative in Geneva, reported on eHNA, is a specific priority for Africa. It includes leading advances in technology and using open access data bases and data warehouses, eHealth innovation and mHealth technologies. There’s an opportunity for WHO to embrace and promote these more effectively. This needs a context of WHO calling on new ideas and innovations if it is to meet the numerous health challenges facing communities.

    Other initiatives include:

    • Expanding strong confidence in WHO’s role in rapidly responding to, managing and containing emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
    • Ensuring there is international and national leadership regarding the major health threat of antimicrobial resistance and the management of drug resistant infections, including CDC’s outpatients antibiotic stewardship plans, reported on eHNA
    • Emphasising healthcare workers’ protection
    • Addressing inequality in health by promoting quality healthcare to disadvantaged communities, especially women and children
    • Expanding and broadening WHO’s funding base beyond the US and Europe

    The WHO has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate recent advances in global health. Tedros can spearhead a highly effective, efficient, and forward-thinking WHO that embraces innovation, to achieve a world where affordable, quality healthcare’s in reach of those currently denied it. It’ll take time. It’s a never ending journey. eHNA looks forward to the new DG taking Africa further along the road.

  • High eHealth leadership event set for Geneva

    Africa’s health ministers have set up an event alongside the World Health Assembly (WHA) to discuss the government leaders’ critical role developing, costing, and implementing national eHealth strategies. Topics include co-ordination and relation shipbuilding between ministries of health and information and communications technologies (ICT).



    Arranged for Monday 22 May 2017 from 1800 to 2100 in Geneva, African Ministerial Dialogue on Digital Health Leadership organisers extend an invitation to a wide audience to participate. Developing and expanding eHealth leadership’s vital for realising eHealth’s benefits.

    Acfee see eHealth leadership as a triumvirate of clinical, political and executive leadership, and extending across eHealth’s wide range and depth. This dialogue, jointly hosted by African health ministers, is a huge step forward in developing Africa’s eHealth leadership.

  • eHealth’s like all initiatives, it’s more than just health ICT

    As eHealth becomes more sophisticated, its demands on integrated investment in health ICT and health and healthcare transformation increases to realise its benefits. Acfee has always advocated a combined approach to eHealth programmes, with an overarching goal of healthier Africans. It’s supported by similar requirements for scientific innovations for healthcare. 

    In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Pennsylvania University says advances in genomic and molecular research that lead to precision medicine will have insufficient benefits without parallel innovations in how predictive analytics is applied in healthcare delivery. Their new data and eHealth requirements have to adopt the same principles.

    It proposes two integrated activities. One’s a Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). The other’s a Precision Delivery Initiative (PDI). Their common goals are integrating predictive analytics into clinical workflows and using innovative data sources to establish best practices that are clinically validated, and empower patients to use their own data to support personalised medicine. This should help to speed up the transformation of clinical care.

    PDI requirements match those for eHealth. The team sees them as including: 

    • Partnerships between a wide range of clinical and ICT stakeholders
    • Incorporating PMI in Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems
    • Using real-time alerts in clinical workflows
    • Putting PMI into patients’ hands.

    These changes for PMI and eHealth are demanding to achieve. Without them, benefits can’t be maximised.

  • Sierra Leone sets up a National eHealth Coordination Hub

    Succeeding with eHealth’s complexities across national health systems invariably needs a core organisation. Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation has set up its National eHealth Coordination Hub to co-ordinate and regulate eHealth. It’ll also support eHealth expansion across the country’s health system. The Ministry of Information and Communications is a leading part of the initiative too.

    A report in Awoko says support’s provided by UNICEF as part of a US$2 million project financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen Sierra Leone’s eHealth Management Information System in Sierra Leone. It’s part of the US Government’s commitment to strengthen health systems and services after Ebola. Laurie Meininger, Deputy Chief of Mission, said the Awoko that “Sierra Leone is taking a step in the right direction, recognizing the growing importance of health coordination for the future health and sustainable development goals in Sierra Leone.”

    The Hub has three main goals I supporting the government’s eHealth ambitions. They’re:

    • Co-ordination
    • Regulation
    • Improve alignment of data with national health system goals.

    Acfee’s regulations database has extending across 64 eHealth regulation topics shows Africa’s health systems trailing those on other continents. Catching up’s a big task that needs resources for regulation risk assessments, regulation decisions and compliance reviews. Selecting and implementing relevant and appropriate priorities are essential to expanding eHealth regulations.

    It’s an important achievement. For Africa’s health systems, affordable, sustainable eHealth decisions are tough to take. Creating the Hub provides Sierra Leone with a constructive way to take them. 

  • A roadmap for image-based mobile technologies in Africa

    "We need new energy to change the world,” said Maud Olofsson, former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister. She was opening the fifth STIAS-Wallenberg Roundtable in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She was talking about the energy of innovation and the people driving it. She emphasised how mHealth experts should help politicians to understand these rapidly changing technologies and work with them how to secure the benefits and opportunities for health systems strengthening. 

    The roundtables are an initiative of the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. They have been run every year since 2013. Delegates are from South Africa, Sweden and the broader international community, invited to engage in dialogue and debate to explore solutions to global challenges.

    The February 2017 Roundtable focused on image-based mobile health. Over 60 participants attended from 16 countries. The event provided an opportunity for cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary discussions and networking, says an article in africahealthnews.

    A tangible output of the roundtable is a roadmap to be published in a special issue of Global Health Action devoted to mHealth. eHNA will share it once it's available.

    The roadmap emerged from discussions on five key questions about the implementation, expansion and up-scaling of image-based mHealth in resource-constrained settings:

    1. How should the most important barriers to the implementation of image-based mHealth in the clinical setting be overcome?
    2. How can frontline healthcare workers adopt image-based mHealth in their practice?
    3. Which key strategies are needed to overcome organisational challenges to implementing image-based mHealth?
    4. Which are key strategies to overcome technical challenges in implementing image-based mHealth within the health sector?
    5. For each stakeholder groups represented, what are the most important priorities to build and sustain mHealth leadership?

    Emphasis on finding solutions and crafting a tangible roadmap provides a constructive model for this type of sector engagement. African eHealth experts included African Centre for eHealth Excellence’s (Acfee) Dr Sean Broomhead (South Africa), Prof Peter Nyasulu (South Africa and Malawi), Dr Ousmane Ly (Mali) and Dr Eddie Mukooyo (Uganda). They will take lessons from the roundtable experience into the Acfee stakeholder events planned for Southern Africa and East Africa towards the end of 2017.

    Helping end users make better decisions and provide better care was critical a focus. Discussions included how best to deal with barriers such as regulatory aspects, costs, Internet accessibility, airtime, power shortages, lack of training, use of personal phones and safety issues around phones, data accuracy and security - a long list - so that users are able to embrace mobile health.

    Delegates included nurses and doctors sharing practical experiences using mHealth in clinical settings, overcoming implementation challenges, and leading change. Their stories fuel optimism for what is possible. We look forward to reading the roadmap and to sharing it with eHNA readers.

    Image courtesy of STIAS

  • AeHIN’s conference on ICT and SDGs starts today

    AeHIN’s five-day conference starts today in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Its the fifth general meeting and focuses on Achieving the SDG's with ICT.

    In 2007, the foundations of the Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) were laid. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) set up the PAN Asian Collaboration for Evidence-based eHealth Adoption and Application (PANACeA). It brought together 16 researchers from ten Asian countries to learn about eHealth and eHealth research. In parallel, eight multi-national research projects were implemented. Its Advisory and Monitoring Team (AMT) mentored the project teams dealing with a wide range of eHealth themes, including evaluating effectiveness of technologies and health informatics to manage health information in hospitals and communities and using telehealth to provide patient care at a distance.

    AeHIN became the vehicle for these endeavours in the region. Its aim is to promote better ICT use to achieve better health through peer-to-peer assistance, knowledge sharing and learning through a regional approach for greater country-level impacts across South and Southeast Asia. Four strategic areas underpin its concept that better health can be achieved by strengthening evidence-based policies and health systems with better quality and timely Health Information Systems (HIS), Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and eHealth enables better information flow to support the delivery of quality and equitable healthcare and management of health systems. The four goals are:

    1. Enhance leadership, sustainable governance and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
    2. Effective networking to increase peer assistance, knowledge exchange and sharing
    3. Promote standards and interoperability (IOp) in and across countries
    4. Build capacity for eHealth, HIS and CRVS in the countries and in the region.

    These fit Africa’s eHealth initiatives. Partners for the event include Ministry of Health and Sports, the Government of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar, the WHO, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

    The Conference objectives include:

    1. Sharing, learning, and preparing to implement digital health capacity building strategies standardized processes, tools and techniques, and ready-to-use IT solutions towards achieving UHC and SDG.
    2. Sharing current state-of-the-art digital health in Asia Pacific region for example interoperability architecture (OpenHIE) implementation, Regional Interoperability lab activities
    3. Motivate stakeholders to invest in digital health to strengthening health systems

    Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are high priorities for Africa’s health systems too. Two of Acfee’s directors, Dr Sean Broomhead and Dr Ousmane Ly are at the event. They’ll be sharing Acfee’s eHealth initiatives and bringing lessons back for Africa.