course ID: 2021_cDgitalH

Applied Digital Health for Health Systems strengthening Foundations in Digital Health and Clinical Decision Support Systems


Digital Health (the application of information and communication technology to health) has now a major role in strengthening health systems around the world, including in low and middle income countries. Governments, NGOs and donors are increasingly resorting to digital health interventions to improve access and quality of health information, enhance healthcare processes, achieve better quality of care and improve patient outcomes.

Despite all the potential, the many implications of eHealth (from the clinical, legal, technological or social points of view, to name a few) often contribute to making initiatives in this domain complex and challenging endeavors. On the other hand, health systems are increasingly dependent on eHealth and general digitalization pushes, despite the widely acknowledged gaps in the evidence-base behind it. That is why it is crucial nowadays that decision-makers in the health domain have a comprehensive understanding of Digital Health – what it is, what are its implications, benefits or barriers, what are the best practices – so that interventions in the field can make the best use of such technologies to improve the health status of populations.

In the last years there has been an exponential growth in the coverage of mobile networks and ownership of cell phones around the world, particularly in low-income settings. In this context, the usage of mobile devices in the health sector, mHealth, is currently the most prominent sub-domain of eHealth in low income countries. This is expressed by the plethora of mHealth initiatives on-going in those settings, which require that international health managers are equipped with up-to-date knowledge in line with latest technological developments that can allow them to take the best decisions.

Learning objectives:

  • Understand the implications, constraints and opportunities in the application of digital health in a health system
  • Be able to influence and steer eHealth initiatives for maximal results
  • Be aware of international best practices and success factors in digital health
  • Clinical Decision Support systems as means of strengthening primary care workforce and enhancing the quality of care.
  • Have the essential knowledge required to take managerial decisions related to digital health

Content of the course:

  • Basic digital health concepts and definitions
  • Key themes in eHealth (eLearning, Telemedicine, Health Information Systems, Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records) and how they can support healthcare delivery and management
  • International trends, barriers, success factors, expectations on benefits, evidence base
  • Key technological aspects: web-based systems and mHealth; proprietary vs open-source; IT infrastructure
  • Interoperability and health data coding and classification
  • Privacy, Security and Legal aspects
  • digital health Strategy, Governance and Policy-Making
  • mHealth and its specificities
  • Project and Change Management in eHealth – complexities around implementing socio-technical systems
  • Evaluation in digital health


  • Basic knowledge and experience in a medical or public health field.
  • Interest in digital applications.

Pedagogical method:

  • Introductory lectures on digital health
  • Tutored hand on experience on selected applications

Martin Raab

Senior Public Health Specialist (MPH), Swiss TPH                                                                                  Head of the Health Technology and Telemedicine Unit (HTTU) of the Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH)

Fenella Beynon

Clinical Research Scientist

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)