Digital technologies are now integral to daily life, and the world’s population has never been more interconnected. Innovation, particularly in the digital sphere, is happening at unprecedented scale. Even so, its application to improve the health of populations remains largely untapped, and there is immense scope for use of digital health solutions.
WHO is harnessing the power of digital technologies and health innovation to accelerate global attainment of health and the well-being
WHO has three key objectives to promote the adoption and scale-up of digital health and innovation:
1. Translating latest data, research, and evidence into action: this means promoting standards for interoperability and data sharing and supporting implementation of digital solutions that contribute to informed decision making.
2. Enhancing knowledge through scientific communities of practice: enabled by new technologies and no longer limited by the need for physical meetings or hard copy peer review journals, WHO brings together top expert voices around topics
of clinical and public health significance.
3. Systematically assessing and linking country needs with supply of innovations: all too often in global health, products are developed with the attitude of “if you build it, they will use it.” This approach has failed time and again. WHO takes a proactive, systematic approach to identify, promote, co-develop, and scale innovations that are based on country needs.
The WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health, adopted in 2020 by the World Health Assembly, presents a roadmap to link the latest developments in innovation and digital health, and put these tools to action in order to improve health outcomes.
Part of WHO’s strategic vision is for digital health to be supportive of equitable and universal access to quality health services. Digital health can help make health systems more efficient and sustainable, enabling them to deliver good quality, affordable and equitable care.
These high ideals are challenging to attain, especially for low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of WHO’s Global Strategy on Digital Health is to support countries in strengthening their health systems through the application of digital health technologies and achieve the vision of health for all. The strategy is designed to be fit for purpose and for use by all Member States, including those with limited access to digital technologies, goods and services.