Digital Health White Paper
Digital Health White Paper for the G20
June 21, 2023
In light of the significant potential for digital health solutions to transform global healthcare, and the essential role of public-private collaboration in unlocking this potential, the Chamber proposes the following recommendations for global, regional, and multilateral policymakers in the digital health space:
Recommendation 1: Ensure representation of the private sector in decision-making bodies related to digital health.
The private sector offers invaluable expertise in technology development, financing, global standards, and market access, which are vital for catalyzing the adoption and scaling of digital health innovations. Effectively harnessing the strengths, resources, and innovative capabilities of the private sector is crucial for the success of the digital transformation of the health sector. Policymakers should ensure the establishment of well-defined mechanisms and platforms that facilitate ongoing dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sectors. A clear framework should be put in place for private sector engagement in digital health activities broadly, including the allocation of seats for private sector representatives on pertinent decision-making bodies. Such representation would mirror the private sector’s engagement in the governance of global initiatives to advance equitable access to healthcare technologies like, the Global Fund, and GAVI and would encourage sharing of insights, experiences, and best practices, fostering a collaborative and innovative approach to digital health. In addition to formal representation on governance bodies for digital health, policymakers could organize regular roundtables, webinars, or workshops involving key public and private stakeholders to facilitate the continuous engagement of industry in advancing digital health initiatives.
Recommendation 2: Leverage private sector expertise to ensure that policy, regulation, and standards are robust, agile and fit-for-purpose.
The private sector brings unique expertise in the rapidly evolving digital health landscape and has first-hand experience in navigating the regulatory, infrastructural, and market-related challenges that typically accompany such innovation. Policymakers should actively involve the private sector in shaping and adopting regulations and standards for digital health that are robust, agile, and that minimize the potential for unintended consequences. This collaboration should focus on promoting innovation, patient safety, and global interoperability, while avoiding overly rigid regulations that could hinder progress. Specifically, policymakers should encourage the adoption of established healthcare standards which have been developed in partnership with industry, including, for instance, the GS1 Healthcare33 and HL7 FHIR standards34. The GS1 Healthcare standard focuses on improving patient safety and supply chain efficiency through the use of globally unique identification numbers for products and assets, enabling seamless traceability and information sharing. The HL7 FHIR standard, on the other hand, enables the exchange of electronic health records and other healthcare data across different systems through the use of standardized data formats. Other areas of digital health practice where policymakers could work to advance the adoption of common standards include, for instance, the DICOM standards for medical imaging data sharing35, the ISO/IEEE 11073 standards for interoperability of medical devices36, and the LOINC standards for standardized laboratory and clinical test results37. To capitalize on these benefits and foster a conducive environment for private sector engagement, there are several key opportunities to engage and leverage private sector expertise in this area. These include, for instance: (i) establishing dedicated working groups that bring together representatives from government agencies, private sector companies, academia, and civil society and which focus on identifying challenges and proposing solutions for regulation and policy, (ii) creating ‘regulatory sandboxes’, where new digital health solutions can be tested in a controlled environment under regulatory supervision, and (iii) promoting public-private partnerships to accelerate the implementation and scalability of digital health solutions. These partnerships can provide the necessary resources and guidance for digital health innovations, thus driving more effective and efficient health systems.
Recommendation 3: Address the digital health divide, including through increased investment in foundational infrastructure and efforts to improve digital literacy.
Equitable access to digital health solutions depends on the availability of robust digital health infrastructure, including widespread internet access, and on service users having the requisite level of digital literacy to use and engage with the solutions provided. Policymakers should mobilize investment for digital health infrastructure, particularly in remote, rural and underserved locations, including through traditional financing mechanisms like tax breaks, subsidies and fundmatching schemes as well as through innovative financing mechanisms like development impact bonds (DIB) and blended financing instruments. In parallel, policymakers should prioritize the promotion of digital health literacy to ensure that all individuals are equipped to effectively use digital health technologies, including, for instance, by collaborating with educational institutions to ensure digital literacy is included in educational curricula, and by engaging with community-based organizations to conduct outreach campaigns for older adults, low-income individuals, or nonEnglish speakers, who may face additional barriers to digital health literacy.