For sustainability, prioritize local capacity building, not just digital health tools

November 30, 2023 by Tara Newton

Through our partnerships, we are making progress on changing the way digital tools are built and deployed by increasing local capacity.

Posh Brink MOU signing

Mike Owigar, CEO of Brink Inovation, and Joe Mwangi, CEO of Posh IT, sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate and leverage their respective expertise in the digital health sector. Photo: Posh IT.

PATH’s Digital Health Ecosystem project awarded four Africa-based digital health organizations with funding to expand and adapt their offerings to benefit community health and explore sustainable business models. This is the fourth article (read the first, second, and third) in a four-part series that highlights the different phases of the project, including the application process, the organizational capacity assessment, Community Health Toolkit (CHT) onboarding, and business outcomes.

While many countries in Africa have made progress in adopting digital tools, several have yet to implement responsible and sustainable digital and data transformation. For PATH’s Digital Health Ecosystem (DHE) project, funded by Bayer Foundation and in partnership with Medic, we are changing the way digital tools are built and deployed by equipping African-based organizations with dedicated business support to build their capacity to offer sustainable solutions locally.

PATH’s DHE project offered Posh IT, one of our grantees based in Kenya, an opportunity to leverage their experience in technology to make a positive impact on health care delivery in Africa. They provide human resource capacity to better deploy and use digital health technologies with a focus on community health. Posh IT has been oriented to the CHT to serve as a CHT technical partner to help digital health implementers to build, integrate, and maintain applications on the CHT. The Posh IT team has been trained on application design, development, and deployment and maintenance of CHT-based apps. After the capacity building, the Posh IT team will explore working with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to support the scale up of the electronic Community Health Information System (eCHIS) in Kenya.

Posh IT recently shared their perspective on the project and how this opportunity has impacted their business outcomes as an organization.

What are the expected business outcomes for this project?

We anticipate several positive business outcomes including revenue growth with the team now being able to support CHT-based deployments, market expansion reaching new clients and uncovering new strategic partnerships, increased brand reputation and a competitive advantage as a leader in the health care technology sector, and increased customer retention. With the implementation of the eCHIS, health care operations will be streamlined resulting in cost efficiencies and increased opportunities for scaling and sustainability. Additionally, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Brink Innovations to collaborate on opportunities in digital health.

What did your team learn throughout the different phases of the project this year?

During the orientation and the prototype development process, our continuous engagement with the open source community provided a collaborative environment that helped our team rapidly learn about and build on the CHT. We now recognize the need for continuous capacity building and development and the importance of investing in people’s skills and knowledge to maintain a successful organization. We enrolled our staff in training initiatives, formulated organizational policies and procedures to streamline our operations, and with PATH’s support, are developing a comprehensive long-term strategic business plan to drive our offerings and position us as leaders in this sector.

As technology evolves, we can expect to see even more innovative and transformative digital health solutions emerge in the years to come and being experts in this field will give us access to markets and opportunities in this space.

Why is localization important for African organizations such as Posh IT?

When customers can use products and services that are localized to their culture and language, they are more likely to be satisfied, leading to increased customer loyalty and repeat business. Other benefits of localization include reduced costs for production and operation, economic development with the creation of local jobs, and increased sustainability by using a local partner.

By localizing digital health solutions, we ensure they align with the cultural norms and practices of the communities served. This cultural relevance is pivotal for the sustainable adoption of technologies.

What else should people know about Posh IT?

We are committed to data privacy and security. We are taking rigorous measures to ensure that patient data is protected and that the digital health platform we build complies with all relevant regulations. This is an increasingly important issue, and we want to assure our partners, customers, and country that we will implement the appropriate safeguards in our solutions. Additionally, we are actively seeking partnerships and collaborations to scale our impact and bring the benefits of digital health to even more underserved communities.

While this is the last article in our series, stay tuned for more updates as the Digital Health Ecosystem project progresses on our webpage.