Join Us at the Global Digital Health Forum 2021

For the second year in a row, the Global Digital Health Forum is going to be a virtual event. This year’s Forum will have representation from various Dimagi team members with experiences working with partners and collaborators. Eleven Dimagi team members will be presenting in eleven sessions, including individual presentations, lightning talks and panel discussions, on a wide range of digital health topics. 

Here are the sessions we’ll be participating in this year:

Impossible is Normal – Clayton Sims, Chief Technology Officer

From one perspective, the last decade has been an ongoing march of progress. Many Global Good platforms have successfully demonstrated the value of long term investment with broad health impacts.

But do these successes mean that “Global Digital Health” is working? Under scrutiny, it’s nearly impossible to attribute global digital health’s specific successes to broader progress in the maturity and approach towards how digital interventions are funded and supported. Zoomed out, the direct overall return from the millions of dollars being invested in development technology each year don’t reflect the same results into accelerating improvement in health impacts as do its brighter achievements. 

In this talk, Clayton will explore the simple underlying truth responsible for fueling this dissonance. That is, it’s normal for technology problems to have no viable solution. We are biased towards presuming that prior success builds and makes us more likely to solve a new problem, but failure is more often built into the problem space itself. We can’t control whether new technology will succeed, but we can choose whether to need it to.

This talk will take place on December 6 at 12:30 PM GMT.

Collaborative workflows across community health information systems using FHIR – Norman Hooper, Senior Software Engineer and Glitter Chadhliwa, Engineering Manager

There are myriad reasons why sharing data, and sometimes even workflows, is important. Across the globe there are many health-related programs that cover their own particular geographical region. Some people in those regions will travel to neighbouring regions. If those neighbouring regions have similar programs but use different platforms, then those platforms should ideally be able to exchange patient data, so that healthcare workers can make decisions based on the information that they need. The same is true for different programs in the same location; patients can be referred from one program to another, but their data might be siloed in each programs’ disparate platforms. This siloing is detrimental to patients and healthcare workers.

This presentation will highlight three different approaches to implement not only sharing of data, but also collaborating to implement a workflow spanning multiple platforms, to achieve better health outcomes.

Norman will join as a panelist, and the panel will be moderated by Glitter. They will be joined by Ashley Jones, Technical Product Owner at Medic and Francis Odhiambo Otieno, Technical Program Manager at Ona. This talk will take place on December 6 at 2:30 PM GMT.

Stopping Infectious Disease & Preparing for Epidemics: How Frontline Digital Tools Can Help us Prepare for the Next Pandemic – Jordan Lerner, Senior Project Manager

COVID-19 has highlighted the role that digital technology, frontline workers, and rapid response strategies can play in lessening the toll of public health emergencies. 

In this presentation, Jordan as well as members from The Rockefeller Foundation and Medic will summarize our learnings about how investments in digitized frontline platforms such as Community Health Toolkit (CHT) and CommCare supported COVID-19 response activities and can help prepare for future pandemics, as described in this report. We will discuss how we are incorporating these three strategies into our work to ensure our partners’ preparedness for future emergencies.

This talk will take place on December 6 at 4:45 PM GMT.

Investing in People Who Defend Our Health: Implementing a digital contact tracing system during COVID-19 in San Francisco: A qualitative study – Hailey Burgess, Research Associate

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) moved quickly to respond. Working with the CDC and Dimagi, CCSF rapidly designed and deployed a contact tracing and case investigation (CICT) web application to track and manage case and contact data in order to contain the spread of the virus. The web application was based on Dimagi’s prior work to contain the Ebola crisis in West Africa with a similar digital health intervention.

During the pandemic, many health jurisdictions deployed digital informatics systems to support ‘manual’ case investigation and contact tracing (CICT). This session will explore the implementation and use of a digital information system through the experiences of CICT workers in CCSF besides our learnings around app usability.

This talk will take place on December 6 at 6:00 PM GMT.

Strengthening Digital Health Ecosystems: Lessons Learned from Hosting Enterprise Software at Scale – Mary Rocheleau, Associate Director of Technology Solutions

Digital health systems aspire to become transformative and integral parts of national health systems. Achieving that goal typically means a sustained and increased investment in the infrastructure hosting that system and requires sustained maintenance in a platform to ensure high performance, security, and uptime. This investment is generally happening concurrently with a program’s scale. Early investment in choosing the right technical approach is critical for sustained impact of a digital health intervention. 

In this presentation, Mary will explore the key elements of scaling infrastructure which are required to host enterprise health software applications. She will also review technical approaches necessary in order to optimize hosting enterprise software both locally and in the cloud, drawing upon specific experience hosting CommCare as part of the eCHIS system in Ethiopia.

This talk will take place on December 7 at 12:15 PM GMT.

Strengthening Digital Health Ecosystems: Evaluating Relationships Between Pregnancy Outcomes and Frontline Worker Behaviour in India – Srikant Mohan, Researcher

Dimagi and Catholic Relief Services deployed a decision support tool to FLWs in Kaushambi, Uttar Pradesh, India in 2012 focused on reproductive, maternal newborn and child health. A retrospective analysis was carried out to understand the relationship between use of the tool and pregnancy outcomes.

The results of the analysis provide evidence for an inverse relationship between the time spent by FLWs completing counselling forms and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The most-at-risk pregnancies appear to be getting the least amount of attention from the FLWs. The finding is striking and novel. While not necessarily a cause/effect relationship, it can be used to predict bad outcomes in advance. 

In this presentation, Srikant will talk about how the ease of use of computing this metric makes its application wide ranging for programme managers, supervisors and other stakeholders in the digital health ecosystem.

This talk will take place on December 8 at 10:00 AM GMT.

Breaking down our assumptions in designing chatbots for healthcare in LMIC contexts – Gayatri Jayal, Director of Consumer Innovations

Direct-to-client solutions are fast emerging as necessary in the pursuit of universal health coverage. Such solutions can take the form of mobile apps or chatbots that are deployed on channels such as Facebook or WhatsApp. 

While it has never been easier to rapidly build and deploy a chatbot, just because we can build a chatbot easily doesn’t mean people will want to use it. In this session, Gayatri will break down (and question) the assumptions we hold when making chatbots for low resource contexts and discuss how to address these in the design process.

This talk will take place on December 8 at 11:00 AM GMT.

Strengthening Digital Health Ecosystems: Building the next Global Good: How we unlocked collaboration through a new approach to Open Source – Clayton Sims, Chief Technology Officer

Despite a decade of growth in bringing tools from proof of concept down to the front line, Global Digital Health still has a serious innovation gap in bringing specific proven technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and Computer Vision (CV) into broad practical use. As early as 2013, the Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases (GSID) and University of Washington developed and piloted an algorithm to add automated interpretation of point of care Rapid Diagnostics Tests (RDTs) into a CommCare mobile application workflow in Zimbabwe using only a phone camera. Nearly a decade later, our industry has very little to show in terms of the actual utilization of these techniques in improving care. Why?

In this talk, Clayton will dive deeper into exploring this question, while also asserting that a new federated pattern of open source development is required for Global Goods to utilize certain types of deep tech innovation. To support this claim, we will present our experience in adopting this pattern to develop the Rapid Diagnostics Toolkit (RD Toolkit) as platform agnostic middleware to support the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in facilitating better and broader utilization of RDTs.

This talk will take place on December 8 at 1:45 PM GMT.

Digital solutions: transforming clinical quality in formal and informal private facilities – Jonathan Jackson, Chief Executive Officer

Private sector health service delivery is an important component of many health systems across the globe and is often the first consult and primary source of care for many illnesses including fever, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infection. Given their patient reach, targeted support to private sector retail outlets may yield the most impact on access to quality care.

During this session, the panelists will discuss the potential of Clinical Decision Tools, RDT Readers and integration of digital solutions with national risk pooling mechanisms to enhance the provision of quality care that matches the needs of patients and increases business opportunities for the outlets.

Jon will be joined by Nicole Dagata, Private Sector Associate at CHAI, Tobias Rinke De Wit, Director of Research at PharmAccess and Nick Donowitz, Chief Strategy Officer at ThinkMD. This talk will take place on December 8 at 3:30 PM GMT.

Revealing hidden costs, cost drivers, and cost variances for implementing and scaling digital health – Molly Golinvaux, Director of Strategy

Long-term success of a digital health solution requires alignment of revenue and expenditures over the lifetime of the intervention. However, budgeting the total costs of a digital health intervention in lower resource settings is often not easily completed because costs are typically spread across multiple health verticals and programs.

The presentation will focus on common hidden costs and cost drivers and variances, especially as they pertain to the operational costs often overlooked.

Molly will be joined by Jenna Fritz, Senior Market Dynamic Associate at PATH, Derek Treatman, Senior Director of Technology Solutions at Vital Wave, Tara Herrick, Senior Market Analytics Officer at PATH and Dr. Henry Mwanyika, Regional Director at PATH. This talk will take place on December 8 at 3:30 PM GMT.

Breaking a vicious cycle! Reproducible approaches to foster trust in routine community health data – Lilianna Bagnoli, Project Manager

While data is revolutionising how people access health services and the precision of care they receive, predictive algorithms still operate in the limitations of poor data quality, resource intensive approaches to it’s improvement and lack of trust in data.

In this session, the panelists will discuss how they have leveraged technological advances and designed tools that identify systemic quality issues in routine community health data besides the reproducibility of the approach and platforms that are well positioned to house open-source tools for improving data quality. 

Lilianna will be joined by Issac Holeman, Chief Research Officer at Medic, Daniele Ressler, Research, Learning and Impact Director at Lwala Community Alliance, Caitlin Augustin, Senior Director of Product at DataKind and Mitali Ayyangar, Portfolio Manager Frontline Health Systems at DataKind. This talk will take place on December 8 at 3:30 PM GMT.


For more information on Dimagi’s presentations and presence at the 2021 Global Digital Health Forum, please check out the full agenda here or reach out to [email protected].

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