Digital Square investing $800K in innovators to advance digital health public good technologies

Digital Square investing $800K in innovators to advance digital health public good technologies

By Akros Media on April 28, 2022 in GIS, News

Digital Square at PATH is pleased to announce that Digital Square’s Board has approved eight proposals for investment—as part of Notice F—to strengthen adaptable, replicable digital tools designed to work together seamlessly to improve health outcomes and help close the health equity gap around the world.

The advancement of mature digital public goods for health (global goods) is crucial for saving lives and improving health around the world because these free and open-source digital health tools can be used across different countries and health program verticals, cutting down on fragmentation and duplication to accelerate scale and health impact.

This funding call encouraged applicants to focus on aligning to global health standards and guidance, as well as working with local teams to build capacity in health technologies in the countries and contexts where they will be used. Notice F consists of three workstreams:

  • Foster global goods’ uptake of World Health Organization (WHO) technical specifications and implementation guidance on developing standards-based, interoperable digital certificates for COVID-19 vaccination status.

  • Create a set of standard implementation examples using the WHO digital adaptation kit (DAK) for antenatal care so that more digital systems will include data and health content that are consistent with WHO’s antenatal care recommendations.

  • Strengthen the technologies of software global goods so they can be deployed as stand-alone products, while building the capacity of new innovators and implementers.

To augment the $800K investment, Amazon Web Services (AWS) will provide cloud computing credits to support the Notice F cohort, as part of a $40M global program that AWS launched in late 2021 to enhance health and reduce inequities in healthcare.

During the application review cycle, Digital Square was able to mobilize resources to add to the original $600K amount—allowing for funding of additional proposals. Digital Square’s approval process includes a category for applications that are approved and recommended for funding, but not funded. This approach makes it easier for new organizations to join the global goods community and benefit from the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and resources among global goods partners. Approved applications are included in key publications, such as the Global Goods Guidebook.

The availability of additional funding underscores the value of identifying high quality projects, and also supports Digital Square’s goal of using transparent processes to select and co-create investments with the global digital health community. Digital Square is continuing to engage with donors to advocate for funding of approved but currently unfunded applications.

Through Notice F—which consists of the three workstreams F0, F1, and F2—Digital Square’s Board approved 12 proposals (which includes both funded and unfunded categories) representing 23 different organizations, summarized here:

Notice F0: Reference implementation of the World Health Organization Antenatal Care Digital Adaption Kit

Notice F1: Implementation of the WHO digital documentation of COVID-19 certificates: vaccination status (DDCC:VS) technical specifications

Notice F2: Shelf-readiness with a focus on building local capacity and new teams

Digital Square runs an open, transparent, and competitive solicitation process that draws on community evaluation of applications. Digital Square’s Open Application Process (OAP) is an innovative approach to procurement that encourages applicants to engage with each other to crowdsource the most interoperable, adaptable tools and technologies for digital health investments. The OAP leads the way for how Digital Square facilitates investments in global goods—accelerating collaboration in the development and maturation of critical digital health tools and maximizing the impact of every dollar spent.

The Notice F work begins now and will continue for a year, building on previous Digital Square investments in global goods, and aligning with priorities across the digital health ecosystem—particularly regarding WHO clinical guidelines and standards of care.

About Digital Square: Digital Square is a PATH-led initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a consortium of other partners. Since its inception in 2016, Digital Square has raised more than $100M from 15 investors to catalyze a range of digital health investments—working with ministries of health around the world to align adaptable, interoperable digital technologies with local health needs.

Digital Square’s coalitions, resources, and its portfolio of mature digital public goods for health (global goods) support large-scale, high-quality, sustainable implementations of digital health interventions. The Digital Square team brings together a robust and diverse skillset to play a leading role in digital health transformation efforts designed to close the health equity gap around the world.

Photo Credit: Image on for this blog post is credited to Mwangi Kirubi, PMI Impact Malaria. The photo is a reminder that digital interventions have a key role to play in enhancing the reach and quality of health services to improve health access and outcomes.