Digital Technologies for Key Public Health Functions

Results of an ECDC Expert Consultation, May/June 2021

Published in: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control website (2021). doi: 10.2900/891738

Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 2022

by Joe Francombe, Emily Ryen Gloinson, Tina D. Purnat, Christian Avram, Petronella Nyakundi, Luciana Muresan, Helena de Carvalho Gomes, Salil Gunashekar

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  • The digital transformation of healthcare, health services, and health systems remains high on the agenda of policy-makers and is receiving increased funding. This creates an opportunity for those involved in public health activities to define how this area can benefit from investment into wider digital health systems.
  • The field of Digital Public Health (DPH) has gained in visibility since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As with the digital transformation of healthcare, investment in digital technologies in public health first requires that we identify public health practices that can be improved or complemented through the adoption of digital technologies and related participatory and evaluation practices.
  • Investments in digital technologies in public health should be based on two perspectives: how an organisation practices DPH through public health functions (function-based perspective), and how it fosters DPH, standards, and governance in the broader DPH ecosystem (digital health perspective).
  • Public health impact is reflected in health outcomes specific to each country, so investment in digital technologies for public health must combine digital technology standards and use cases with local contexts and involve health professionals, patients, communities, and the public, as needed.

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