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What's next for the Global Digital Health Partnership?

Published 27 March 2018

A conversation with Clinical Professor Meredith Makeham, the Agency’s Chief Medical Adviser.

Clinical Professor Meredith Makeham, Chief Medical Adviser
Clinical Professor Meredith Makeham, Chief Medical Adviser.

Hi Meredith, thanks for sharing your time with us. Could you start by telling us something about the Global Digital Health Partnership, or GDHP?

MM: Sure. The GDHP is a collaboration between governments, government agencies, and the WHO.1 We are also currently speaking to a number of other federal jurisdictions who are actively considering joining as well.2

Global governments have come together to create an international platform for sharing insights and ideas on policy initiatives and programs which supports participants to deliver digital health services in their respective jurisdictions. There is currently no similar international forum to share best practice and enable co-working in digital health. The ultimate goal is to achieve better health outcomes for our citizens, and to improve the experience of clinicians and consumers when they interact with our health systems. Digital health technologies and services underpin so much of our health systems now, so it’s become very important that we can learn from each others’ initiatives, especially where there are measurable benefits that can be quantified and tracked.

We received very positive feedback about the GDHP Summit and the International Digital Health Symposium, from our delegates, which is heartening. A month has passed, and we’re assuming you’ve developed a more comprehensive perspective on the event overall. What are your thoughts here?

MM: The inaugural summit established a series of key theme areas to become the focal points of ongoing collaboration, namely: Interoperability, Cybersecurity, Evidence and Evaluation, Policy Environments, and Clinical & Consumer Engagement. Participants are volunteering to participate in areas that they feel that they are leading in or conversely that they feel they need support in. We’re encouraging all participants to join as many of those as they’d like.

Australia is contributing to all of these key work plan priorities, as well as supporting the GDHP in our role as the Secretariat for the first 18 months.

The next gathering will be in Washington DC. Do we know yet what format it will take and what are we wanting to get out of it?

MM: Looking at the future of the GDHP, we have a number of meetings planned for the participants to come together. Our next meeting is in Washington DC on 24 and 25 April, preceding the Health Datapalooza on 26 and 27 April. At this meeting we plan to further refine the work plans for the key priorities listed earlier. We’ll also continue to share ideas and discuss our respective visions that will help to guide the participating countries in the delivery of digital health services.

Following Washington, we anticipate that there will be another meeting in the UK later in the year. We’ve also had offers from Saudi Arabia and India to host meetings.

What do we want to achieve over the next year and why is this so important to the progression of digital health?

MM: A preliminary workplan has been developed for each of the five key work stream priorities. For example, in the Evidence and Evaluation work stream we are looking at the development of a framework that will enable all the GDHP participants to work in ways that let them compare results with each other in a meaningful fashion.

These kinds of frameworks will help to create a common ground that enable each participant to collaborate in a meaningful way and thereby establish a solid foundation for future learning and growth in digital health.

We’re really proud of the way Australia has led the establishment of the GDHP. It’s an incredibly valuable initiative for all of our participants and a fantastic opportunity for us to learn from international best practice and ensure we’re using cutting edge evidence to develop the digital health services of the future.

  1. The participants at the inaugural summit were Australia, Austria, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, India, Italy, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the World Health Organization.  
  2. Argentina, China, Denmark, Dubai, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Norway Switzerland and the Ukraine. 

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