With the global spread of COVID-19 virus, Digital Health (DH) is playing a key role in both managing and slowing down the spread of the virus. Every day, we hear about new DH apps and initiatives for tackling the virus. As a result, governments, health systems and global healthcare organizations are recommended to quickly learn from DH best practice implementations.
This also raises many questions, such as: can we get health apps into clinical practice before validation? Can we deploy these apps at larger scales e.g., different countries or health specializations? how to customize these apps to national clinical settings? what are the plans for training patients and healthcare practitioners on new apps? what is the effective channel for sharing best practices? What are safeguards that should be considered for data protection? which mentoring and evaluation framework should be followed? and many more questions!
These interdisciplinary questions require system thinking and strategic approach, like roadmapping, to be resolved. In this way, all stakeholders can effectively collaborate to address these questions in a coordinated manner. This scenario inspired me to seek for scientific-based solving techniques- like strategic and innovation management- in creating the COVID-DH Roadmap.
What it does
The interactive COVID-DH Roadmap project will support the stakeholders in taking fast-informed decisions on how to utilize the DH solutions in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The project consists of four main stages:
Stage 1: Exploring and identifying available COVID-DH solutions
a- Categorizing the main areas of DH intervention
b- Mapping the relevant DH solutions
Stage 2: Customizing and deployment COVID-DH solutions
a- Conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of DH solutions
b- Building foresight scenarios of the selected solutions and relevant action plans
Stage 3: Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
a- Identifying the minimum set of mandatory regulations, that should be followed during crisis time (mainly, the EU regulations for data protection and medical devices)
b- Implementing the M&E frameworks to maintain the sustainability of the DH services
Stage 4: Collaboration and sharing
a- Creating an interactive action plan to transfer COVID-DH best practices and lessons learned
b- Identifying opportunities for collaboration in the global digital health domain
How I built it
The methodology behind the creation of COVID-DH Roadmap can be summarized as follows:
1- Conducting a literature review on COVID response DH solutions and corresponding categorization
2- Utilizing the Online S3 Platform in creating the roadmap. The Online S3 project is co-funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union
3- Exploring the resources of the international agencies and organizations, such as: EC, WHO, ITU, and others, to utilize the relevant DH frameworks, toolkits, guidelines, best practices, etc.
Challenges I ran into
The main challenge I faced is selecting the proper online platform for roadmapping. This is because, this tool should provide the stakeholders with an interactive platform, in which they can share their vision and collaborate in strategy building. The second challenge was finding the best and most updated resources on COVID-DH solutions and interventions.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The main accomplishment is thinking strategically on how to utilize DH apps as a game changer in our battle against the coronavirus. Furthermore, the roadmap will be also one of the stimuluses for integrating the currently carried-out initiatives and multidisciplinary projects.
What I learned
Building up on the available solutions and projects will save time and efforts to focus in our main global goal, namely, strengthening the health system!
What's next for COVID-DH Roadmap
The next step of the COVID-DH Roadmap is improving the ecosystem for connected digital health, in terms of: DH standards and interoperability, regulatory frameworks, business models, etc.