Digital Health – Design for Sustainability Development Goals (SGDs)

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It is often difficult to visualize how Digital Health can help to achieve sustainability goals.  Hence, it is critical to equip IT Executives with the information to sponsor the opportunities in this space. Taking sustainability seriously in the digital health space can not only contribute to the achievement of several sustainable development goals (SDGs), but it can also generate significant business opportunities.

This article aims to demystify how Digital Health can be leveraged to achieve sustainability goal by walking through the step-by-step process to design one of the sustainability goals of UNICEF – “GOAL1: Every Child survives and thrives”

Digital Health

Digital Health refers to use of digital technologies like mobile, SMS, interactive voice response, health management systems, wearables, drones, big data analytics. Digital health interventions have demonstrated to provide improved health outcomes.

GOAL 1: Every Child survives and thrives

When one looks at the above SDG goal from an IT perspective, it may not be easily comprehensible as to how Digital Health can address this problem.  However, answer lies in a disciplined approach in designing this solution.

Step #1: Problem Definition

Problem definition provides a compelling reason as to why it is important to address this issue. Here we are trying to solve 2 problems:

#1 End preventable, maternal, new-born and child deaths

#2 Promote the health and development of all children

Step #2:  Beachhead

The scope of this goal is global. However, it is prudent to start small by identifying a beachhead with access to Health Care Professionals (HCPs).  And then iterative through the process to add more similar markets.

Step#3: Human Centered Design

Human-centered design with a patient at the center is critical to success.  It will not be hard to visualize that the user journey of mother and child becomes the core of the design.

  • For mother the journey flow could be – pregnancy, birth, postpartum followed  by maternal health
  • For Child the journey flow could be – Trimesters, birth and postnatal, infancy and childhood

As designers, it is important to involve with health care providers (HCPs), doctors, nurses, mothers, and such key stakeholders to identify all the critical stages of these user journeys. Design thinking workshops are the best way to collaborate in such situations.

Step#4: Digital Health Interventions

The next step is to identify EPIC/themes where digital health interventions like mobile solutions can be leveraged. Again, human-centered design workshops can help identify these themes. Few includes register pregnancy, track pregnancy, record birth, and track child and mother.

Step#5: Putting this all together

The below design from UNICEF and Frog design sums up the entire designing process of a sustainability goal. 

Figure 1 UNICEF and Frog Design

Hopefully, the above step-by-step approach provides a template on how to start designing a Digital Health Solutions for sustainability. As you can see the design process is like any IT solution, but it requires a good understanding of user-journey in healthcare setting to come up with a compelling design solution to address the SDG.

References:

UNICEF’s Approach to Digital Health

Subeed Ahmed

About

I am a senior IT Executive with 2 decades of promising career in increasing organizational competitiveness and value by architecting and delivering technology-enabled business/process improvement solutions. Blending my management (Executive MBA - IIM, Bangalore), technical degree (B.E. - Computer Sciences), professional certifications (CSM, Safe Agilist, and PMP) and Global experience, I have delivered several strategic and digital transformation programs. My overall experience comprise 15+ years’ with Life Sciences/Healthcare Domain leaders and top-notch clients namely J&J, GE Healthcare, Philips, BCBS Horizon, and Kaiser Permanente.

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