I-TECH has worked with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other implementing partners in Botswana to develop and implement robust national health information system that enable greater efficiency and accountability and strategic use of information. I-TECH’s work on the National Data Warehouse ensures the availability of strategic information to monitor progress toward reaching epidemic control, with particular focus on Treat All, linkages to care, and HIV clinical cascade for 90-90-90 care continuum.
The overall goal of the Enhancing Quality of Healthcare Activity (EQHA) program in Cambodia is to improve the quality of public and private health services in national and sub-national health systems by August 2023. The project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is being implemented by Family Health International (FHI360) in collaboration with I-TECH and other partner organizations. I-TECH’s scope of work focuses on improvements to 1) the national health policy regulatory framework and 2) national pre-service health education and training institutions.
The Fifth Annual Global Digital Health Forum was held from 10-11 December in Washington, D.C., attracting more than 300 participants to the FHI 360 Conference Center. At the forum, representatives from the new Digital Initiatives Group at I-TECH (DIGI) and its partner in Haiti, CHARESS, shared knowledge and lessons learned from 15 years of experience implementing digital health solutions worldwide.
The theme for this year’s forum was “A Shared Language for Digital Health,” and built on a foundation of the World Health Organization’s Classification of Digital Health Interventions.
“I welcome the messages from donors funding digital health work that they are shepherding a new era through the Digital Investment Principles,” said Joanna Diallo, DIGI Managing Director. “The conference provided DIGI an opportunity to present our contributions to global goods like OpenELIS, OpenMRS, and OpenHIE.”
Diallo moderated a panel titled “Different Labs Need Different Systems: An Exploration of Open Source Laboratory Information Systems Use in Global Health and the Community of Practice that Brings Them Together.” Jan Flowers, DIGI Faculty Co-Lead and Director of Global Health Informatics at the University of Washington Clinical Informatics Research Group, and Casey Iiams-Hauser, Senior Informatics Implementation Specialist with DIGI, were panelists, along with Steven Wanyee of IntelliSOFT, a former member of the I-TECH Kenya team.
The panel highlighted LIS as a critical component of national health information systems (HIS) architecture, exploring a complementary suite of open source LIS that are implemented across low- and middle-income countries, describing the laboratories and use cases each serves.
“The forum is a fantastic opportunity to meet with funders, on-the-ground implementers and technologists to discuss our work and learn about new initiatives and technologies,” said Iiams-Hauser. “We can leverage this knowledge for success both in our existing health information projects and in future partnerships.”
CHARESS HIS Lead Nathaelf Hyppolite participated in a session highlighting the development, implementation, and transition of EMR in developing countries, drawing on I-TECH and CHARESS’s work in Haiti. Participants heard about the benefits of an interoperable EMR: a unified data format, the ability to back up data, and that same data can be used to generate reports via DHIS2 from both the cloud servers and hardware EMR system. Hyppolite also shared the advantages and limitations of transitioning to an OpenMRS and OpenHIE platform, which bring experts together to share knowledge, standards, and best practices, as well as collaborate on technologies.
This focus on community and communication was noted by Diallo and the other participants. “DIGI really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about new standards and technologies, how to best approach digital health governance work, and how a shared language will help us collaborate and work together to ultimately improve health outcomes,” said Diallo.
Nancy Puttkammer, PhD, MPH, presented a poster at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston on 4-7 March 2018. She was joined by Rose Boulay, a representative from the Haiti Ministry of Health (MSPP) National HIV Program (PNLS). Madame Boulay works on data quality assessment, training for clinical sites, and decision making using data from the iSanté electronic medical record (EMR) system.
The poster, titled “Multi-Month Scripting (MMS) and Retention on HIV Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Haiti,” reflected the collaboration between I-TECH and MSPP to analyze national policies using iSanté data from 85 ART clinics. They examined the MSPP-led MMS initiative to prescribe longer intervals of ART for stable patients. The goal of the MMS approach is to improve patient retention on ART by reducing the burden to patients of coming into the clinic monthly to pick up their ART prescription.
“Our analysis showed impressive uptake of MMS across all health facilities, suggesting that longer intervals are welcomed by providers and patients,” explained Dr. Puttkammer. “Patients prescribed ART for two months or more were 18% more likely to be retained, after adjusting for various patient and facility factors, compared to patients on monthly ART regimens. This is a promising result in terms of the goals of the MMS approach.”
Haiti’s national EMR system allows for the MSPP to conduct data analysis to evaluate the success of health interventions across the entire network of clinics and hospitals in a timely manner. “We are very pleased that we have been able use the iSanté data system to measure the progress of our national HIV and AIDS response, and to share our results with an international audience at CROI. It has been a great experience,” stated Madame Boulay.
Representatives from the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) are headed to New York for the 9th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference. The conference—held on March 16-18, with satellite sessions on March 15—will be co-hosted by Columbia University, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Peradeniya.
Featured speakers include Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, and Natalie Kanem, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund.
Building on the theme of “Health Disparities: A Time for Action,” staff and faculty from I-TECH will be presenting on the following topics:
- King Holmes, MD, PhD, founding chair of the Department of Global Health and a co-Principal Investigator of I-TECH’s IAETC award, will join a morning plenary session and discussion about global health disparities. The discussion will be moderated by Director of the Fogarty International Center Roger Glass. Dr. Holmes will be joined for the discussion by Rose Leke, Gairdner Foundation Global Health Committee member and Emeritus Professor at Universite de Yaounde, and K. Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India.
- Kate Wilson, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, is presenting a poster titled “Evaluation of a New Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) Intermediate Course to Strengthen Public Health Preparedness in Tanzania.” The locally adapted course significantly improved trainee knowledge and skills in field epidemiology, and the evaluation also showed evidence of improvement in data quality and performance at trainees’ workplaces and districts.
- Lindsay Mumm, MPA, Program Manager, is presenting a poster titled “Creating Relevant Change towards Reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Target with High-Impact Leadership Training – Afya Bora Fellowship in Global Health Leadership.”
In addition to the research being shared at CUGH, I-TECH was represented earlier this month at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston. Nancy Puttkammer, PhD, MPH, presented a poster titled “Multi-Month Scripting (MMS) and Retention on HIV Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Haiti.” The retrospective study used data from the iSanté electronic medical record system in Haiti and found promising results that MMS for ART in virally suppressed patients improved retention and engagement in treatment.
The mission of CUGH is to build interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitates the sharing of knowledge to address global health challenges while promoting mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships between universities in resource-rich and resource-poor countries, developing human capital and strengthening institutions’ capabilities to address these challenges. Read more about CUGH: https://www.cugh.org/.
Established in 1993, The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) was provides a forum for scientists and clinical investigators to present, discuss, and critique their research. The goal of the conference is to provide a forum for researchers to translate their laboratory and clinical findings into tangible progress against the HIV pandemic. Read more about CROI: http://www.croiconference.org/.
I-TECH’s work in Cambodia began in 2013 on a laboratory program focused on refining operations and building capacity through improved quality assurance and management practices. The program continues to deliver intensive mentoring and support for laboratory workers, support for national laboratory system policy development, and job-specific training programs.
In 2018, I-TECH expanded its work in Cambodia with the Enhancing Quality of Care Activity (EQHA) program. The EQHA program aims to improve the quality of public and private health services in national and sub-national health systems by August 2023 by improving the national health policy regulatory framework and pre-service health education and training institutions.
In all efforts, I-TECH works closely with the Ministry of Health and local partners to support and strengthen laboratory systems and improve the quality of public and private health services in Cambodia.
As a key member of the Kenya electronic medical record (EMR) system technical working group, I-TECH works to implement and standardize the EMR systems used in the management of national HIV and AIDS care and treatment data. Similar efforts have focused on ensuring that different electronic systems can communicate with one another (interoperability) and that health care workers, administrators, and staff are well trained to use and maintain them.
In 2012, I-TECH designed and developed an electronic medical records (EMR) system, KenyaEMR, to support the care and treatment of HIV/AIDS. KenyaEMR is built on the OpenMRS platform. I-TECH supported the implementation of KenyaEMR in over 300 health facilities throughout Kenya—one of the largest open source EMR rollouts in Africa.
To address the UNAIDS Sustainable Development Goals for elimination of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases by 2030, and the PEPFAR 3.0 goals, I-TECH leverages the technical expertise of its universities and partners, the broad experience of its funders, and best practices from 15 years of implementing programs.
The International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) works in partnership with host country governments, universities, professional associations, non-governmental organizations, private sector groups and funding agencies to strengthen local capacity and build sustainable health systems.
I-TECH follows a partnership model that guides the provision of technical services and technical assistance toward local ownership and sustainability, creating projects and programs that can be readily transitioned into national systems.
Based at the University of Washington, I-TECH draws upon a strong global network of public health professionals. The approach described in this document is customized in each country to respond to local needs and priorities. In addition, each I-TECH country office team aligns the model with the unique Partnership Framework Implementation Plans of the partner host government.
1. IDENTIFY NEEDS in consultation with host country governments
I-TECH works with host country governments to assess existing health systems and identify specific areas where the delivery of health care could be improved. This early collaboration helps to ensure that technical assistance accurately reflects the country’s specific health strategies and priorities.
2. STRUCTURE PARTNERSHIPS that integrate projects into existing systems
In each partnership, I-TECH develops roles, responsibilities, and timelines based on a long-term vision of integrating projects into existing national systems. As part of this vision, I-TECH recognizes and leverages the strengths and resources of national systems, building on and maximizing these efficiencies. The partnerships that emerge are attuned to the needs, realities, and structure of host country systems. Thus, they build and maintain lasting capacity within host country systems, maximize cost-effectiveness, and produce projects that can be more readily scaled up to meet national goals.
3. SECURE TECHNICAL RESOURCES from affiliated universities, partners, and the I-TECH network
As a center based at the University of Washington, I-TECH has direct access to a wide variety of technical specialists. In addition, I-TECH draws upon a robust global network of locally based public health professionals. These specialists provide a wide range of technical expertise to meet project needs.
4. PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND SERVICES tailored to actual needs and resources
I-TECH is committed to technical services and technical assistance approaches that build upon and support the existing strengths of local health systems. In addition, I-TECH prioritizes the use of local and regional expertise, an approach that builds the capacity of local experts to meet locally determined needs.
5. MONITOR PERFORMANCE; evaluate achievement of objectives and measure outcomes
I-TECH implements projects within a quality improvement framework designed to track progress in institutional capacity building and guide successful implementation. Using the framework, implementers monitor the progress of each project against specific benchmarks of success; for example, the progressive transfer of skills and capacity to local institutions. This methodology ensures that objectives are met and provides data to adjust approaches as projects evolve.
6. TRANSITION PROJECT into national systems to ensure sustainability
The ultimate goal of I-TECH’s partnership model is to improve health outcomes by strengthening local capacity and building sustainable health systems. I-TECH’s technical services and technical assistance are tailored from the initial planning stage to produce projects that can be successfully absorbed into national systems within mutually determined and realistic timeframes. Recognizing that a successful transition takes time, I-TECH offers transition support in a variety of technical areas including quality improvement and grant management.