We are delighted to announce the publication of our upcoming book:
Herselman, M and Botha, A (2016), Strategies, Approaches and Experiences: Towards building a South African Digital Health Innovation Ecosystem, CSIR Meraka, Pretoria, South Africa.
ISBN 978-0-7988-5632-4 (hbk).
The purpose of the book is to provide an overview of how a Digital Health Innovation Ecosystem (DHIE) was developed based on different strategies, approaches and experiences which were gained over a period of time based on collaborations between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and VTT, known as the Technical Research Centre of Finland.
In this book it was important to provide a realistic overview of the current South African health situation where ICT systems are involved and issues which has to be addressed if digital health will be implemented to support health systems in South Africa. Digitalisation of healthcare processes is one of the key phenomena in global health, and as such an obvious central issue for every government concerned with the health and well-being of its citizens. National strategies, initiatives, funding, projects, as well as consultant briefs and academic literature on the topic are increasing rapidly. Practically no serious health policymaker or professional can have missed the call to digital health action because of “social and demographic changes, the rise of chronic diseases, and the need to improve efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery” (OECD 2013).
The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs played a key role to make this collaboration a reality through their financial support. The collaboration has focused on two key issues: First, it has worked to broaden the Finnish and South African capabilities for strategic planning of digital health innovation ecosystems, and secondly, undertaken practical and targeted work to analyse, conceptualise and build a South African DHIE, where foresight and roadmapping was applied. The dialogue between South African and Finnish research experts in innovation and community work has been and is important for our ability to learn how technologies can be deployed to address society-wide challenges. It is also a testimony to the importance of two-way learning between Finland and South Africa.
In Section A the context and challenges experienced in health in South Africa will be outlined with an analysis of what elements constitute Digital Health, Innovation and a Digital Ecosystem in general. Section B aims to present the methodology that was followed with its underpinned philosophy and methods that contributed to develop this high level ecosystem. The different phases of conceptualising and developing the Digital Health Innovation Ecosystem (DHIE) for South Africa with a graphical representation illustrating how the concepts relate to and support one another is also provided in the final DHIE. Section C will present next steps in implementing a MHealth and Wellness Innovation Ecosystem in South Africa with the lessons learnt, reflections and discussions.