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Stewardship, Accountability, Assessment Of Advantages, Risks Critical To Ensuring Digital Health Innovation Improves Health For All

Project Syndicate: Taming the Wild West of Digital Health Innovation
Asha George, chair of Health Systems Global and professor at the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa; Amnesty LeFevre, associate professor at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town; and Rajani Ved, director of India’s National Health Systems Resource Center

“Digital technology is revolutionizing our daily lives. … While such innovations have their advantages, they also carry significant risks, including potentially widening existing inequalities within our societies. This prospect is particularly worrying when it comes to global health. … [T]here is no guarantee that digital innovations in health will bring shared benefits. That is why, before moving forward with any new digital tool, it is vital to consider who it will reach, the motivations of the various actors involved in its development and deployment, and the implications and opportunity costs for users and health systems alike. … Next year’s Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will focus on the nexus between government stewardship, innovation, and accountability. Only with a clear-eyed assessment of a new technology — including who is responsible for it and who could be left behind if it is deployed — can we ensure that the digital revolution delivers on its promise to improve global health” (6/11).