Establishing a health informatics research lab in South Africa

Moodley, D and Pillay, AW and Seebregts, CS (2018) Establishing a health informatics research lab in South Africa, Proceedings of NEMISA 2018 Digital Re-imagination Colloquium 2018: Preparing South Africa for a Digital Future through e-Skills, 13 March 2018, Mbombela, South Africa, 16-24, National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa.

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Aim/Purpose: The aim of this project was to explore models for stimulating health informatics innovation and capacity development in South Africa. Background: There is generally a critical lack of health informatics innovation and capacity in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This is despite the wide anticipation that digital health systems will play a fundamental role in strengthening health systems and improving service delivery Methodology: We established a program over four years to train Masters and Doctoral students and conducted research projects across a wide range of biomedical and health informatics technologies at a leading South African university. We also developed a Health Architecture Laboratory Capacity Development and Innovation Ecosystem (HeAL-CDIE) designed to be a long-lasting and potentially reproducible output of the project. Contribution: We were able to demonstrate a successful model for building innovation and capacity in a sustainable way. Key outputs included: (i) a successful partnership model; (ii) a sustainable HeAL-CDIE; (iii) research papers; (iv) a world-class software product and several technology demonstrators ; and (iv) highly trained staff. Findings: Our main findings are that: (i) it is possible to create a local ecosystem for capacity development and innovation that creates value for the partners (a university and a private non-profit company); (ii) the ecosystem is able to create valuable outputs that would be much less likely to have been developed singly by each partner, and; (iii) the ecosystem could serve as a powerful model for adoption in other settings. Recommendations: for Practitioners:Non-profit companies and non-governmental organizations implementing health information systems in South Africa and other low resource settings have an opportunity to partner with local universities for purposes of internal capacity development and assisting with the research, reflection and innovation aspects of their projects and programmes. Recommendation for Researchers: Applied health informatics researchers working in low resource settings could productively partner with local implementing organizations in order to gain a better understanding of the challenges and requirements at field sites and to accelerate the testing and deployment of health information technology solutions. Impact on Society This research demonstrates a model that can deliver valuable software products for public health. Future Research: It would be useful to implement the model in other settings and investigate whether the model is more generally useful

Item Type: Conference paper
Subjects: Software and its engineering > Software creation and management > Collaboration in software development > Open source model
Social and professional topics > Computing / technology policy > Medical information policy > Health information exchanges
Applied computing > Life and medical sciences > Health informatics
General and reference > Cross-computing tools and techniques > Design
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Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2020 11:46
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 11:46

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