New Commonwealth Digital Health Centre emphasises eHealth’s coming of age
When we founded Acfee, late 2013, there were few centres focusing on eHealth or digital health. eHealth’s opportunities, and risks, were poorly recognised and a lot of our time was spent talking with health’s academics and government leaders about what it means. This led to Acfee setting its focus for the last five years on stimulating the industry; developing eHealth leadership and capacity and creating a more fertile environment to help the fledgling initiatives mushrooming across African countries to succeed.
Now that the industry is growing, regional centres are just as important, and the role or organisations like Acfee is switching from clarifying the opportunity to providing tools that the growing eHealth network will use to deliver health benefits for our people. There is lots of work to be done and more Centres are appearing to help make progress.
Acfee welcomes the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health, launched in London on 20 April 2018 at a side event to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018. The theme of the event was ‘Global Health Security & the Digital Health Society 2030 - Innovation & Investment for One Planetary Health & Universal Health Coverage’. It’s a fitting focus for the new Centre's digital health efforts too.
Acfee commends the leadership provided by Prof Vajira Dissanayake, Commonwealth Medical Association President, and his colleagues. We look forward to collaborating with the Centre to jointly support realising digital health’s enormous potential to transform our health systems.
Watch this Video Message from WHO
WHO’s Director General, His Excellency Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the establishment of the centre and “its focus on fostering innovative technologies for health that are appropriate for low income countries”. He reiterated WHO’s support for efforts to harness digital technologies for a healthier, safer and fairer world.
The picture was provided by the Commonwealth Medical Association. It shows from left to right:Denis Gilhooly, Executive Director, Global Health 2030 Innovation TaskforceProf Vajira Dissanayake, President, Commonwealth Medical AssociationDr Pascale A. Allotey, Director, International Institute for Global Health, United Nations University (UNU), MalaysiaHis Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri LankaProfessor Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government, Co-Convener, United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)Right Honorauble Christopher Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister, Malta
- 385 views
- May 03, 2018
- Sean Broomhead
Cape Town’s eHealth accelerator programme offers opportunities for graduates
Many of us have good ideas. Turning them into action is often harder. Cape Town's Accelerator Programmes aims to help. It offers opportunities for graduates to access finance and work experience to turn their ideas into a viable business.
There are two pilot programmes. Accelerator two opens for applications on the 15th March 2018. Accelerator one has announced its eight finalists. They participate in a ten week online programme and have face to face interactions with their mentors.
Business coaches in eHealth started on the 23rd January 2018. The course extends over 10 weeks. There is one topic each week taking about ten hours. Finalists take part in discussions about health problems and solutions. Strategic planning, alignment to health-care environments, defining and marketing proposals are the main themes. Discussions on topics relevant to running a profitable and beneficial eHealth business are included too.
Finalists are :Petrus Van Niekerk : Udok allows doctors to interact with patients who are far away as well as administer treatment and monitor patient careDr William Mapham : Vula Mobile is a system which allows doctors to refer patients to specialists in tertiary hospitals Dr Anuschka Coovadia : HealthAtHome is a company that will provide patients with the best care from the comfortability of their homes at an affordable price. Brighton Khumalo : ConnecTB is an online tool which allows health care providers to register and monitor TB patientsNicole Van Der Merwe : GeneCare Molecular Genetics will provide patients with access to customised diet plans as well as exercise programmes which will be accompanied by educational video coachingDr Musaed Abrahams : Aviro Health has developed an app that will mentor nurses in primary health care to efficiently treat patients with HIVSuretha Erasmus : GC Network has developed a pregnancy screening app that educates pregnant mother of their individual risk for a chromosome abnormality as well as provides detailed information regarding available prenatal testing which will help the mothers make informed decisionsVere Shaba : RAR Group VRHEALTH is a company that created a virtual yet realistic world for substance abuse patients who have been placed in a rehabilitation to develop new behavioral patterns through the virtual world Is the programme a model for Africa’s other health systems? It offers a smart way to encourage and develop Africa’s budding eHealth entrepreneurs.
- 453 views
- March 12, 2018
- Kamogelo Motlhomi
Acfee welcomes two new interns
Acfee’s intern programme plays an important role in helping to achieve our goals in the rapidly expanding and competitive African eHealth landscape. In February we welcomed two talented and driven young professionals:Ms Kamogelo Motlhomi, a clinical associate graduate from Wits University Ms Nontobeko Shabangu, a public health graduate from Monash University.
Acfee interns acquire relevant, practical exposure to numerous aspects of the eHealth industry. In return they contribute fresh perspectives on eHealth’s challenges and opportunities, adding new insights and ideas to Acfee’s vibrant talent pool.
We look forward to a year of knowledge sharing, value creation and successful outcomes. Welcome to the Acfee team!
- 523 views
- March 12, 2018
- Sean Broomhead
eHealth's 'good to great' formula offers success for 2018
Amit Ahlawat in his book, “Seven Ways to Sustained Happiness”, says, “New doors open up; we stop looking back, enjoy the present and start planning and prioritising for the future in an optimal and optimistic manner." Similarly, as the doors of 2018 have swung open, eHealth must look forward, carrying with it the wins and lessons from 2017 to plan for an optimistic future. So, what does this future look like? More importantly, what are Africa’s eHealth priorities in 2018?
2017 left us with a whirlwind of eHealth innovation, some big wins and some great lessons. Over the past few days, every noteworthy eHealth blogger, author and fund have written about their insights for 2018. As a young voice in this industry, I’d like to share my eHealth predictions for the year ahead.
My infatuation with analytics leads me to my first prediction; 2017’s curiosity with BDdata will result in greater investment in analysing data and making it more useful in 2018. eHNA’s published several articles over the last two years around the need for predictive analytics and the applications of Machine Learning (ML) in Africa’s healthcare. Micromarket Monitor predicts a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of over 28% in predictive analytics investment in the Middle East and Africa by 2019. Growth will be driven by the high penetration of new technologies in eHealth, rapidly increasing eHealth start-ups in Africa and the deluge of data they generate.
Next, the rise in mHealth applications will swing more users towards Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD). While it’s been a hot topic in 2017, Africa’s eHealth seems unconvinced by it. An eHNA article reported that over 90% of healthcare workers own a smart device. Barring security concerns, mHealth’s growing use in clinical decision support and healthcare delivery will propel government and organisations towards developing BYOD strategies.
Unsuspectingly, gamification may grab lots of attention this year. As healthcare moves away from a reactive to a proactive response, gamification may provide a large helping-hand in behaviour modification and awareness. It’s already created a sensation with Pokemon Go. Research suggests it improves physical and mental health.
There’ll be many more predictions and events for Africa’s eHealth in 2018. The success of these will be underpinned by prioritising and investing in:Developing eHealth leadershipChange managementRisk managementCyber-security.
eHealth needs a unique type of leader with the right eHealth perspective, insight and skills to identify and maximise Africa’s eHealth opportunities. Without this, opportunities may not be seized. Acfee feels strongly about this and has put together a number of resources to develop eHealth leaders and champions.
Change management’s vital for eHealth transformation. It helps stakeholders understand, commit to, accept and embrace the changes that eHealth brings with it. Prosci reports that projects with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet their objectives than projects with poor change management.
Lastly, no endeavour is without risk. England’s WannaCry crisis and spambot Onliner are proof that eHealth and innovation will attract a fair amount of risk. 2017’s frenzy around cyber-security has taught us some valuable lessons. Lessons that need to carried into this year and strongly embedded into risk management protocols. For preparedness is no luxury, but a cost to eHealth’s progression and efforts.
I look upon 2018 with great zeal and zest for the infinite opportunities that lie ahead. 2017 has shown that Africa has a promising eHealth future ahead of us, and the contributions you make as innovators, collaborators and visionaries can only strengthen it. I wish you all a prosperous new year and hope that you will remain in our readership as we unfold 2018’s innovations and breakthroughs.
- 452 views
- January 05, 2018
- Ameera Hamid
Lessons for Africa on making eHealth work
Investing in the right eHealth then realising its benefits are global challenges. England’s NHS’s taking advice from the National Advisory Group on Health Information Technology in England, chaired by
Professor Robert Wachter Chair of University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine. The report, Making IT work: harnessing the power of health information technology to improve care in England, sets out findings and recommendations that can inform Africa’s ehealth programmes too. The core perspective’s that while continuously changing healthcare’s a considerable challenge, eHealth that creates a fully digitised NHS important, will be the most sweeping and challenging.
There are ten findings and principles:Digitise, so adopt eHealth, for the right reasonsIt’s better to have the right eHealth than quick eHealtheHealth’s Return on Investment (ROI) isn’t just financial, patient safety and healthcare quality are important tooDecisions on eHealth centralisation should learn, but not over-learn, the lessons of the National Progarmme for Information Technology (NpfIT) Interoperability (IOp) should be built in from the outsetBoth privacy and data sharing are very importanteHealth must embrace user-centered designThe end of implementation’s the beginning, not the endSuccessful eHealth strategies must be multi-faceted, requiring workforce developmenteHealth entails technical and adaptive change.
For Africa’s eHealth, Acfee would add two other interacting principles. One is to adopt a business case methodology that enables rigorous, reliable eHealth investment decisions and lays a foundation for M&E. It leads on to the second principle; undertake M&E before, during and after implementation. The learning value is considerable, and leads to better business cases and investment decisions.
Ten recommendations are:Complete a thoughtful, long-term national engagement strategyAppoint national chief clinical information officer with an effective roleDevelop a workforce of trained clinician-informaticists in hospitals, with appropriate resources and authorityStrengthen and grow the CCIO roles, others trained in clinical care and informatics and health ICT professionals Allocate national funding to help hospitals implement eHealth and maximise benefitsSet a time for substantial eHealth maturity when central financial support for hospitals can end and regulators deem those that have not achieved high eHealth levels as not compliant with quality and safety standardsLink national finance viable local implementation and improvement plansOrganise local and regional learning networks to support implementation and improvementEnsure IOp as a core eHealth component needed to promote better clinical care, innovation and researchSupport a robust, independent evaluation of eHealth strategies and act on the findings.
Sustained investment in eHealth leadership across Africa’s healthcare’s needed too. Acfee proposes a triumvirate of clinical, political and executive eHealth leadership throughout healthcare. It’ll take time to reach a critical mass, so starting now’s essential. Future eHealth Leaders at eHealth ALIVE 2017 in October’s provides a step forward.
Appendix F’s an eHealth maturity index. Its self-assessment has three main themes:Readiness, strategic alignment, leadership, resourcing, governance and information governanceCapabilities of records, assessments and plans, transfers of care, orders and results management, medicines management and optimisation and remote and assistive care and standardsInfrastructure for WiFi, mobile devices, single sign-on and business continuity.
Africa’s eHealth will benefit from a fourth component, benefits. It include benefits realisation and the timescales need to reach the critical mass to provide a socio-economic return on eHealth investment.
- 309 views
- December 11, 2017
- Tom Jones
AMA sets eHealth leadership role and vision for doctors
Africa’s eHealth is characterised by fragmented data. So is eHealth data in the US, where doctors have stepped up their eHealth leadership and set up a new collaborative initiative. Is it a role and approach for those of us practicing medicine in African countries to consider?
The American Medical Association (AMA) announced its move into a new data evolution era of better, more effective patient care to improve, organise and share health care information. Its Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI) provides a platform to bring together health and technology sectors around a common data model that’s missing from healthcare and eHealth. A profile’s on YouTube.
IHMI is the national imperative to pioneer a shared framework for organising health data, emphasising patient-centric information and refining data elements to those that support predictive actions for better outcomes. Its online platform will support a continuous learning environment enabling a common data model to evolve with real-world use and participants’ feedback. By evolving available health data to provide a complete pictures of patients’ journeys across wellness, illness, treatment and beyond allows healthcare to focus on patient outcomes, goals and wellness.
Another innovative aspect of IHMI is its support for collaboration. All healthcare and ICT stakeholders can participate. Initial collaborators include IBM, Cerner, Intermountain Healthcare, American Heart Association, American Medical Informatics Association. More are set to join. Their collaboration will help the health system learn how to collect, organise, and exchange patient-centred data in a common structure that captures the most important data needed to improve care, long-term wellness and transform the data into a rich stream of accessible and actionable information.
Its effects could be far-reaching. A common data model with clinically validated data elements can accelerate development of better data organisation, management and analytics. It’s likely to foster patient care models with better outcomes, create technical innovations to address poor interoperability, cumbersome and inadequate data structures, and avoid data overload that harms clinicians’ morale.
As we move our eHealth programmes on in African countries, IHMI highlights a vital, sophisticated health informatics and analytics theme to consider. It shows the importance of doctors’ role in eHealth, as a model for our doctors and other health professionals to consider taking on an equivalent eHealth leadership role.
- 608 views
- October 24, 2017
- Sean Broomhead
HISP’s global eHealth role expands
As the global eHealth community matures, lessons and good practices are beginning to emerge. Some of these are about organisations and their business and software models. The Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) organisations provide a cogent example. They operate in numerous countries across global regions and are as different as they are similar.
The differences are pronounced. The businesses range from informal, two to three-person teams, to large, formal company structures such as HISP-India and HISP-South Africa that have adopted robust business systems, employ experienced technical experts and managers, and enjoy long-term contracts.
Where the differences end is when it comes to software. HISP entities share an almost ubiquitous commitment to the District Health Information System (DHIS) software platform. The latest version is DHIS2. It’s a success story for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). It combines two essential components of successful FOSS:A highly customisable platformA highly professional core development team.
The HISP network is developing and enhancing its role across several regions. The emerging HISP Partnership Organisation (HPO) is a collaborative effort to watch. Its members include HISP organisations in South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines. Its founders are key personalities who’ve been closely associated with HISP entities and DHIS developments. They believe in collaboration and the need to build local capacity to ensure sustainability of DHIS implementations and broader health information management.
Regional networks are also taking notice of HISP and the DHIS. At the Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) annual conference in Myanmar in March, DHIS2 was a hot topic of conversation in most sessions. The DHIS2 platform provides the foundation for many AeHIN countries' routine information systems.
Africa’s AeHIN equivalent is growing too. It's the African Centre for eHealth Excellence (Acfee). The potential synergistic relationship between these regional networks and the HISP entities presents a substantial opportunity for cooperation and collaboration to move eHealth forward.
Acfee supports local eHealth capacity building to develop the eHealth leadership and policy strengthening essential for sustainability. Learning from AeHIN's success is critical. The keynote address by AeHIN governing committee member Jai Ganesh Udayasankaran, at eHealthAFRO 2017 in Johannesburg 2-4 October 2017, provided tangible suggestions that will move the partnership into action.
- 586 views
- October 23, 2017
- Sean Broomhead
Acfee internship applications open today
At Acfee, the interns in the first cohort complete their year of service in December. They've set the bar high for those who follow in 2018, engaging actively in Acfee initiatives and becoming advocates for eHealth in transforming health systems.
The Acfee Internship Programme offers enthusiastic graduates the opportunity to develop themselves professionally through practical experience in Acfee's work. These activities stretch across various areas such as its four main pillars: healthier Africans, building eHealth knowledge bases, strengthening and securing good eHealth and improving health outcomes. Internships are offered depending on the needs and capacity of the Acfee team to receive and supervise interns.
Today, Acfee begins accepting internship applications for 2018. Four places are available. Interns will be part of Acfee’s operational team, working closely with eHealth experts and supporting Acfee’s work in developing eHealth leadership and capacity for Africa. They will also contribute to posts for eHealth News Africa (eHNA), Acfee’s daily blog and even collaborate on publications.
Do you have what it takes to be part of this dynamic team? Enquire and send your CV and a one-page motivation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 916 views
- October 18, 2017
- Ameera Hamid
Gates Foundation highlights Africa's challenges
This year’s annual report from the Gates Foundation sets a clear, optimistic tone with a practical view ahead.
“Fewer people than ever before contracted polio, and more women had access to contraceptives than at any other time in history. We supported the fight against Zika virus. And this was the year that almost $13 billion was raised to support the Global Fund's mission to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. While we are deeply proud of this progress - and all that we have achieved together so far - we remain mindful of the great challenges that lie ahead.”
The Economist has extracted from the report a gloomy side for Africa. Its commentaries include:Campaigns to eradicate extreme poverty, HIV and malaria are going awryDemography’s one of the biggest reasons for gloomAn enormous fertility gap’s opened between benighted places and everywhere elseHigh birth rates lead to high dependency ratios where relatively small adult populations support lots of childrenThe fertility gap between Africa and the rest of the world’s set to close very slowly, taking 40 years to drop from five to under threeAfrica’s population of over 1.2 billion will be 2 billion by 2046 and 3 billion in 2071By 2030, there’ll be over 280 million 15 to 24 year olds, over 20% of the current populationFewer Africans living in deep poverty but the slow reductions leave about 415 million people, about a third, and are outstripped by population growthAbout 50% of the world’s poor are thought to be in AfricaFuture funding for HIV, malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) such as lymphatic filariasis that can lead to expanded body parts, river blindness and sleeping sickness, is uncertainVaccine-resistant malaria could evolve and spreadA risk of AIDS increasing despite objective such as AIDS free generationBetter HIV survival rates means more expensive and expanding treatment and costs, possibly leading to inadequacies and more casesHealth spending in 32% of sub-Saharan African countries, about 17, is less than 3% of their GDP, less than the 5% seen as a minimum for the basics.
The Gates report says the biggest risk to progress is failing to control infectious disease. The impact in Africa of more HIV and malaria will be rapid. Is this the essential focus of the next wave of Africa’s eHealth investment? With Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a priority, it may not be enough if infectious diseases rampage across Africa.
Should prevention and surveillance be the top priority for the next few years so eHealth can help to stabilise the substantial achievements already secured?
- 496 views
- October 13, 2017
- Tom Jones
AeHIN and Acfee to collaborate on supporting regional eHealth
At today’s eHealthAFRO, Jai Ganesh Udayasankaran, Council Member of the Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) presented his organisation’s history and successes. It plays a substantial catalytic role in supporting eHealth’s development in the Asian region.
Mr Udayasankaran confirmed that AeHIN will collaborate with Africa’s emerging network, the Africa Centre for eHealth excellence (Acfee), on several aspects of eHealth that are priorities both for Africa and Asia. The main themes include:eHealth governanceeHealth regulationCyber-security.
eHealth governance is well-developed in AeHIN. It promotes COBIT 5, a sophisticated standard. Most of Africa’s eHealth governance needs an initial entry point. Countries can use AeHIN’s experiences to see a trajectory of where their eHealth governance could lead.
Acfee’s research on eHealth regulation in Africa reveals a significant deficit. The 2013 data are a few years out of date, though progress remains slow. They show an extensive reliance on telecommunications regulations, with little specific eHealth regulation, as shown below.
These figures are well behind good practices. The deficit’s about 45% points, showing that progress is vital to avoid the African region falling further behind.
Cyber-security has become increasingly critical. Acfee accumulates data on issues, priorities and guidance, much of which is posted on eHNA. Acfee’s basic cyber-security handbook for Africa sets out some features in what are rapidly changing and more effective cyber-threats.
Collaboration with AeHIN will move further ahead this year. Progress will be reported at next year’s eHealthAFRO 2018 and in eHNA
- 594 views
- October 03, 2017
- Sean Broomhead
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