GetStandards for GetHealth

By Alice Borrelli, Director, Global Healthcare Policy, Intel Corporation

Last week at the United Nations, more than 400 delegates from around the world met at the GETHealth Summit to discuss the question, “how do we GETHealth in emerging markets through ICT for the frontline healthcare worker?”

Public and private sector leaders of health programs, educators, donors, governments, and the IT industry came together equipped with our technology solutions, eLearning modules, best practices and social media reach and found a distinct difference at this conference. The time for pilots and PowerPoint presentations is over. They were replaced with a dynamic conversation, systems design, mapping in-country progress and an announcement of a serious fund raising initiative. 

We were reminded of the critical importance of training healthcare workers who augment care in African countries with less than five physicians per 100,000 patients. Can a combination of digital learning, access to clinical decision support tools and patient records provide the needed training that will lower those shocking statistics? All while ensuring that mothers and children have a chance for not only survival, but a healthy live course? Can this become the new norm?

Joining the panel on institutional policy and regulations last week at the GETHealth Summit were (left to right): Karen Schulder Rheuban, Director of University of Virginia Center for Telehealth; Mick Keyes, Senior Technologist, Enterprise Group, Hewlett Packard; Alice Borrelli, Director of Global Health and Workforce Policy, Intel; Larry Irving, Co-Founder, The Mobile Alliance for Global Good; and Gary Fowlie, Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, ITU.

As I see it, the answers to these questions are, “not without global and local policies in place that will create a pathway to speed the necessary training, testing, and refresher programs to the frontline worker.” Joining the panel on institutional policy and regulations last week at the GETHealth Summit, I came prepared to offer the Intel experience of standards based solutions for rapid growth, innovation and lower costs to go to market by instituting tried and tested Health IT “gold standards” including HL7, LOINC, SNOMED CT, ICD10, RxNorm and Continua.

The use of these standards facilitates data exchange among communities, hospitals and regions. Not everyone in the session agreed, and challenges to these recommendations were thoughtful and important to consider in emerging markets. These questions were brought to the discussion: “should we pursue a lighter standards approach?, and are there emerging technologies that will ensure the connection of training materials to health records and population health data repositories that will give a more in-depth understanding of the region’s healthcare challenges and treatments?

WHO and the ITU are convening standards bodies, governments, ICT companies and NGOs to discuss these issues and we are encouraged by their progress. Intel is supporting these efforts by providing expertise and technical assistance. We would go one step further and propose to the NGOs, foundations, governments and corporations that have been supporters and funders of frontline healthcare worker training, that we unite in our commitment to standards and the interoperability of both technology and programs.

Can we agree to require future funding be tied to the demonstrated ability for programs and technology to work together at every level before the funding is released? Should standards based designs be a requirement for the deployment of the digital delivery of education for frontline healthcare workers? It’s an approach that we hope will be debated as the next level of funding is rolled out through the leadership of Jeffrey, Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, which we expect to be the turning point for achieving the 1 million X 2015 goal.

Sincere thanks to Bob Bollinger and the leadership teams from Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education, the Global Partnerships Forum and the governments of Ethiopia, Norway, Rwanda and Uganda for convening this inspirational and impactful conference. We are ready to go beyond Powerpoints.

What questions do you have?

 More information on the Intel skoool™ Healthcare Education Platform, the company’s open access multi-media platform to strengthen the skills of midwives and community health workers maybe found through the partnership organizations: UNFPA, and USAID’s mPowering Frontline Health Workers.

 

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