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What digital health recommendations should be adopted by the global health community to address the challenges of current and future pandemics?
By engaging a diverse stakeholder group of 13 leaders in the fields of public health, digital health, and health care, a consensus was reached on how to implement digital health recommendations to address the challenges of current and future pandemics across 5 main themes: team, transparency and trust, technology, techquity (the strategic development and deployment of technology in health care and health to achieve health equity), and transformation.
This consensus statement provides a roadmap for the implementation of digital health policy by stakeholders, including governments, to prepare for and address current and future pandemics.
COVID-19 has highlighted widespread chronic underinvestment in digital health that hampered public health responses to the pandemic. Recognizing this, the Riyadh Declaration on Digital Health, formulated by an international interdisciplinary team of medical, academic, and industry experts at the Riyadh Global Digital Health Summit in August 2020, provided a set of digital health recommendations for the global health community to address the challenges of current and future pandemics. However, guidance is needed on how to implement these recommendations in practice.
To develop guidance for stakeholders on how best to deploy digital health and data and support public health in an integrated manner to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics.
Themes were determined by first reviewing the literature and Riyadh Global Digital Health Summit conference proceedings, with experts independently contributing ideas. Then, 2 rounds of review were conducted until all experts agreed on the themes and main issues arising using a nominal group technique to reach consensus. Prioritization was based on how useful the consensus recommendation might be to a policy maker.
A diverse stakeholder group of 13 leaders in the fields of public health, digital health, and health care were engaged to reach a consensus on how to implement digital health recommendations to address the challenges of current and future pandemics. Participants reached a consensus on high-priority issues identified within 5 themes: team, transparency and trust, technology, techquity (the strategic development and deployment of technology in health care and health to achieve health equity), and transformation. Each theme contains concrete points of consensus to guide the local, national, and international adoption of digital health to address challenges of current and future pandemics.
Conclusions and Relevance
The consensus points described for these themes provide a roadmap for the implementation of digital health policy by all stakeholders, including governments. Implementation of these recommendations could have a significant impact by reducing fatalities and uniting countries on current and future battles against pandemics.
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Accepted for Publication: December 10, 2021.
Published: February 23, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.0214
Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2022 Al Knawy B et al. JAMA Network Open.
Corresponding Author: Bandar Al Knawy, MD, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, PO Box 22490, Riyadh 11426, Saudi Arabia (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Author Contributions: Dr Al Knawy had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: All authors.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Crooks.
Drafting of the manuscript: Al Knawy, McKillop, Abduljawad, Tarkoma, Bates, Lee, Kozlakidis, Crooks.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: McKillop, Abduljawad, Tarkoma, Adil, Schaper, Chee, Bates, Klag, Kozlakidis, Crooks, Rhee.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Al Knawy, Abduljawad, Tarkoma, Lee, Crooks.
Supervision: Al Knawy, Chee, Rhee.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Bates reported receiving grants from EarlySense; personal fees from CDI Negev; equity from ValeraHealth, CLEW, MDClone, and FeelBetter; personal fees and grants from IBM Watson; and equity and personal fees from AESOP outside the submitted work. Dr Rhee reported beng a former IBM employee and current CVS Health employee during the conduct of the study. No other disclosures were reported.
Disclaimer: Although Dr Kozlakidis is identified as personnel of the International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organization (IARC/WHO), the author alone is responsible for the views expressed in this article, which do not necessarily represent the decisions, policy, or views of the IARC/WHO.
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