Global Partnership Leads the Way to Advance Digital Health

Don Rucker | January 14, 2021

Across the globe, countries are making significant investments and advancements to promote the movement of electronic health information.  Global health information technology (health IT) leaders are working collaboratively to develop, implement, and share best practices with other nations about projects that advance key elements of digital health.  These efforts can yield better patient outcomes, reduce administrative burden on providers, and enable patients’ access to their health data. One of ONC’s primary global health IT engagements for this work is the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP).

GDHP Overview

The GDHP is a collaboration of 31 countries, territories, and the World Health Organization, formed to support the effective implementation of digital health services.  Established in 2018, member nations formed the GDHP to identify international best practices for the use of health data to advance health and healthcare, provide opportunities for networking and knowledge transfer, and facilitate environmental scanning to more accurately forecast emerging trends.  Today, GDHP participant countries and territories represent over 2.8 billion people.

Flags from all the countries participating the The Global Digital Health Partnership

The GDHP is a collaboration of 31 countries, territories, and the World Health Organization, formed to support the effective implementation of digital health services.

The GDHP provides opportunities for its government members to exchange best practices related to data sharing of electronic health records, e-prescribing, cyber security, patient access, and more. Five work streams address existing digital health gaps and identify where alignment among country governments could more effectively advance global digital health:

  1. Interoperability,
  2. Clinical and Consumer Engagement,
  3. Cyber Security,
  4. Policy Environments, and
  5. Evidence and Evaluation.

ONC’s Leadership in the GDHP

In 2018, HHS Secretary Alex Azar designated ONC as the lead U.S. representative to the GDHP. ONC, a founding member, represents U.S. health IT efforts and equities in the GDHP to ensure our domestic efforts align with worldwide efforts and vice versa.

I had the privilege of chairing the GDHP Interoperability Work Stream to advance interoperability across GDHP countries and territories.  Through this work stream, we examined the different health data standards across GDHP nations.  This analysis serves as the foundation for our efforts to advance interoperability across the globe. We issued two white papers that describe the digital health interoperability landscape within GDHP nations, identify best practices for interoperability, discuss purposes and barriers for interoperability, and identify areas where the GDHP could work together to advance interoperability of health data globally.

GDHP Activities

In 2019, each GDHP work stream developed white papers that identified the landscape in their respective subject matter areas and discussed best practices and opportunities that participant nations use.  We will discuss these white papers in detail in an upcoming blog post so stay tuned for that. Additionally, GDHP hosts summits for participants to convene for brainstorming sessions, sharing subject matter expertise, and discussing digital health topics.

As digital health continues to expand at a rapid pace globally, the GDHP serves as a sounding board for digital health leaders and experts to collaborate on key topics. The GDHP continues to advance key elements of digital health that have short-and long-term benefits, strengthening health care systems worldwide, especially now as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic. ONC will continue engaging with global partners to share ideas and advance projects that help make health care around the world better, safer, and healthier.

You can learn more about the details of GDHP’s efforts by visiting the ONC global health IT web page.