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By: Kasey Henderson, Advocacy Coordinator and Amanda Kalamar, Senior Research Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health
COVID-19 has changed the way we live and access health services. As health systems and people transition towards self-care to shore up stressed healthcare systems and meet their health needs, digital health services create new opportunities to increase individual agency, in turn accelerating the overall improvement of health outcomes.
When well designed, digital self-care increases people’s self-awareness of their health needs, encouraging safe self-testing with appropriate follow–up. It also helps people self-manage their own health conditions, with reliable linkages to high quality information and health providers.
Digital self-care can facilitate and promote self–care for people seeking services or information within the public or private sectors, while maintaining privacy for individuals engaging in self-motivated health behaviors. Leveraging digital technology can also reach people in new ways, helping minimize stigma and discrimination associated with sensitive health areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The intersection of self-care and digital health has the potential to increase access to critical health services but also presents challenges and possible barriers. There has never been a more relevant time to develop practical guidance for effectively designed, implemented and researched digital health in support of self-care.
The Self-Care Trailblazer Group, in collaboration with HealthEnabled and building on the foundational work of the World Health Organization on self-care and digital health, has developed “Digital Self-Care: A Framework for Design, Implementation and Evaluation”. The framework provides practical guidance for effectively designed, implemented and researched digital health in support of self-care. What this means in practice is ensuring that the four key principles for quality digital self-care are considered when designing and implementing programs.
From increasing consumers’ access to health information and services, to increasing anonymity and autonomy, to continuous monitoring of quality and safety, there are many opportunities for digital self-care interventions to reimagine health services and their implementation—and to do so in a way that strengthens the health system.
However, there are also ways that digital health approaches could accidentally end up doing harm if the below principles are not considered — or could result in a fragmentation of healthcare that hinders rather than helps good health.
The four principles are: user experience; data privacy and confidentiality; quality assurance, and accountability and responsibility. Their integration into digital health results in a unique value add that digital technology can bring to self-care: the ability to unify the need for a person-centered approach to healthcare with an approach that strengthens health systems.
With suggestions on how to analyze, define, integrate, develop and test your digital self-care interventions, the roadmap encourages implementers to pause and consider whether a digital implementation project can truly address the needs and gaps in the target community.
The principles in the framework invite you to consider: What have you done well? What have you missed? How can you address those gaps? What opportunities are there to align with others, to reduce fragmentation?
Rich with practical advice on applying this framework to your digital self-care programs, the case studies offer examples of how to ensure the four characteristics of a quality intervention are woven into each aspect of your programming.
With recommendations for designers, implementers, policy makers, researchers and donors, the framework offers key considerations and recommendations for various stakeholders on the path to designing and implementing digital self-care interventions.
Ready to give the digital self-care framework a try? Dive in here and don’t miss out on our webinar on Thursday October 29th, where we will examine case studies and provide practical implementation tips!
With overarching commitments to flexibility in our work, and greater wellbeing for our employees, we want to ensure PSI is positioned for success with a global and holistic view of talent. Under our new “work from (almost) anywhere,” or “WFAA” philosophy, we are making the necessary investments to be an employer of record in more than half of U.S. states, and consider the U.S. as one single labor market for salary purposes. Globally, we recognize the need to compete for talent everywhere; we maintain a talent center in Nairobi and a mini-hub in Abidjan. PSI also already works with our Dutch-based European partner, PSI Europe, and we’re creating a virtual talent center in the UK.
PSI is firmly committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in our work. As signatories of the Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Adolescent & Youth Engagement, PSI affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives. PSI’s commitments aim to serve and partner with diverse young people from 10-24 years, and we have prioritized ethics and integrity in our approach. Read more about our commitments to the three core principles of respect, justice and Do No Harm in the Commitment to Ethics in Youth-Powered Design. And read more about how we are bringing our words to action in our ICPD+25 commitment, Elevating Youth Voices, Building Youth Skills for Health Design.
PSI works to ensure that its operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Read more about this commitment in our policy statement, endorsed by the PSI Board of Directors.
Since 2017, PSI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a commitment to align strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Read about PSI’s commitment to the UN Global Compact here.
The health of PSI’s consumers is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. That’s why we’ve joined the Climate Accountability in Development as part of our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Read about our commitment to environmental sustainability.
PSI does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Read our full affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy here.
PSI is committed to establishing and maintaining a work environment that fosters harmonious, productive working relationships and encourages mutual respect among team members. Read our policy against discrimination and harassment here.
PSI is committed to serving all health consumers with respect, and strives for the highest standards of ethical behavior. PSI is dedicated to complying with the letter and spirit of all laws, regulations and contractual obligations to which it is subject, and to ensuring that all funds with which it is entrusted are used to achieve maximum impact on its programs. PSI provides exceptionally strong financial, operational and program management systems to ensure rigorous internal controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse and ensure compliance with the highest standards. Essential to this commitment is protecting the safety and well-being of our program consumers, including the most vulnerable, such as women and children. PSI maintains zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitative acts or threats by our employees, consultants, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programs and services, and takes seriously all complaints of misconduct brought to our attention.
PSI affirms its commitment to diversity and believes that when people feel respected and included they can be more honest, collaborative and successful. We believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. Read our commitment to diversity and inclusion here. Plus, we’ve signed the CREED Pledge for Racial and Ethnic Equity. Learn more.
PSI affirms gender equality is a universal human right and the achievement of it is essential to PSI’s mission. Read about our commitment to gender equality here.