Blogs posted for Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The art of interactive conference for knowledge sharing

 

Published on ADB website on Thursday, 12 November 2015

Written by Susann Roth and Jane Parry

Conferences are a great way to bring like-minded people together in one venue to learn from each other and share ideas. But they can also be deadly dull if they don’t break away sufficiently from the traditional plenary format. Fortunately, the recentConference on Measurement and Accountability for Universal Health Coverage in Asia-Pacific gave participants a multitude of innovative ways to engage with their peers.

ADB jointly organized the event, held in Bali in late October, together with the Government of Indonesia, BPJS Kesehatan (Indonesia’s largest social health insurance provider), the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) and other development partners such as NORAD, the Joint Learning Network, and PATH. During the conference, participants reviewed the current evidence on cost, benefit and impact of ICT-enabled solutions in the health sector, and then set about developing their own set of concrete priority actions to work on in the coming year at the country and regional levels.

A number of plenary sessions brought together high-profile speakers from around the region and beyond. The sessions became interactive with the help of the forum app Pigeonhole, through which the audience posted questions as they arose, and others could then vote on them. As questions bubbled up to the top of the list, the speakers were able to address the issues that most concerned their audience.

There were the usual breakout sessions, with feedback presented to the whole conference, and each group was tasked with a practical goal to achieve. In these smaller groups, national peers decided on the next steps appropriate to their unique circumstances that will help their country use ICT-enabled solutions to reach the goal of universal health coverage and transition their countries health sector M&E frameworks from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By using a marketplace format—which is our personal favorite—the conference was able to present 22 different digital health architecture tools and solutions, with participants choosing the ones that interested them the most. Presenters engaged with smaller and strongly interested audiences, showcasing a wide range of innovations, including those for electronic health records, civil registration and vital statistics, geographical information systems, and open-source software solutions for health information systems.

Hearing about how ICT can be harnessed to make health systems interconnected and serve patients better is interesting, but the conference went a big step further.

A live demonstration showed in real time how even fairly basic computers and mobile phones can support existing open-source digital health solutions to deliver better care. Using a scenario of maternal/child health and malaria to illustrate the role for interoperable HIS in continuity of care, the live demo showed how a barcode-based unique health identifier can be created at any point of care. Information can then be shared not only with national databases, but also with other points of care in different locations and over time. Check out this video to learn more about digital health infrastructure.

The conference also got participants out of the meeting rooms with four site visits to a BPJS regional division office; a district hospital that had deployed integrated HIS and BPJS information systems, and two primary care clinics at different stages of implementing ICT-enabled HIS.

As the week drew to a close, it was clear that the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs was an over-arching theme. Whereas the MDGs fostered a silo-ed approach to specific health issues, the health-related SDGs have a clear focus on equity and they demand measurement and accountability for achieving specific targets. Both these factors put the role of ICT at the forefront.

This event was an excellent forum to build a regional response to the global call to action made at the Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health Conference held in Washington, DC earlier this year. Participants left Bali knowing that there was a thriving community of practice that they could draw on for advice and support, and ADB is proudly part of that.

 

 

 

 

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Blogs posted for Asian Development Bank (ADB)

ICT helping countries move toward universal health coverage

 

Published on ADB website on Friday, 12 December 2014

Written by Susann Roth and Jane Parry

When the Conference on Measuring and Achieving Universal Health Coverage with ICT in Asia Pacific wrapped up earlier this month, the 290 participants could head home knowing that it had been time well spent. Not only did they share their experiences as health systems administrators and managers, they also left with a bigger network, and a commitment to taking concrete steps to use information and communications technology (ICT) to help their countries move closer to universal health coverage

It was gratifying, as one of the co-organizers together with colleagues from World Health Organization and the Asian e-Health Information Network to see this process unfold. The conference was designed to get people talking in small groups, actively learning from each other, consulting together to hammer out what needs to happen for health systems to fully harness the benefits of ICT, and it culminated in a vote on what the 10 most important next steps are.

ADB is committed to increasing health investments in the coming five years and those investments have to go where the organization can have the biggest impact. One of ADB’s key strengths is its ability to convene disparate organizations and foster partnerships.

This conference was a prime example of effective collaboration among partners to capitalize on each other’s strengths. The knowledge that was gained in the conference room will not just travel back home with the participants. ADB’s health team learns from this process too.

The 10 next steps agreed to at the meeting will also inform a forthcoming joint ADB/WHO policy brief on using ICT to promote and measure progress towards universal health coverage.

ICT can bridge the gap between existing health systems and universal health coverage, but it’s a complex process and every country has its own challenges. We need to know from the people who are closest to the respective health systems to ensure that ADB’s commitment to supporting the goal of universal health insurance continues to hit the mark.

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