THINKMD CEO, Chris Powell

One of the privileges of experiencing the digital health landscape from the vantage point of CEO of THINKMD for the last 12 months has been the witnessing of the ability of digital solutions to transcend geographical boundaries, language barriers and national contexts. The digital transformation of health systems is indeed an exciting prospect for patients, health providers, health entities and governments alike.

However, what the last several years of working with implementing partners in a dozen countries to implement digital health solutions has taught us is that there is no unilateral road to digital health transformation. Digital tools are like pieces of a puzzle, which need to be sequentially placed together to achieve a full solution. The order that this should take is not the same for everyone. In fact, depending on the type of health system and the stakeholders at the center of the digital health solution/s, this pathway may look very different depending on their challenges, needs and priorities. Two things are clear: first, the users of the digital health tools need to be placed at the heart of decision making and second, the pathway is currently a muddy road marred with false starts, dead ends, trial and error and too many funding hoops that do not accelerate scale.

Promisingly, in many contexts, players within health systems, including digital health partners, are working together to collaborate on solutions rather than compete for resources. These partnerships, whether formal or informal, are paving the way for the conversation that has been needed for some time: when it comes to digital health adoption, where do we start and where do we go next?

THINKMD will be focusing on this topic at the next virtual Global Health Open Mic on 15 September, emceed by Bobby Jefferson, Vice President and Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Engagement and Inclusion and Formerly the Chief Technology Officer for DAI Global Health. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of speakers on the topic, who will take to the mic share their five minutes of insight and experience on the topic. These speakers include Darlene Irby (Executive Director, Digital Health, Pathfinder International), Angel Chelwa (Vice President of Operations, Healthy Learners in Zambia), Prossie Muyingo (Community Health Worker, MoH and Living Goods in Uganda), Dr. Sarah Kiptinness (Head of Medical Services, Penda Health in Kenya) Sébastien Osterrieth (MEQI Associate for Integrate Health in Togo).

These questions have also catalyzed our own internal conversations around this topic as we grapple with how best to support implementing partners and others in their journey towards digital health adoption. We do not have all of the answers yet, but we are beginning to formalize the conversation in the form of a series of resources on the topic. The first resource, set to be released late September 2022, addresses the fact that while there are many publicly available resources on digital health adoption, these can be lengthy and overwhelming. We have sought to whittle the advice and guidance down into a concise and practical step-by-step digital adoption approach. We will be building on this foundational resource to develop further resources on success stories and case studies of digital health adoption, as well as explore the impact of these successes. 

The emphasis is that for the global health community to find the answers to these questions, our experiences and knowledge need to be shared. We encourage you to join the Open Mic and the conversation on digital health adoption. As we not only pioneer but pave these pathways, it is our duty to make the road as seamless as possible for those who journey next. 

We welcome any thoughts, stories or suggestions on the topic. 

Yours in Better Decisions. Better Data. Better Health. 

Chris Powell, CEO, THINKMD