BOSTON, Dec. 10, 2021 — The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation has awarded more than $5.8 million in new grants for innovative data- and AI-driven approaches that support digital transformation of health systems and healthcare across the globe.
Digital technologies – from remote sensors and digital medical records to virtual care and data-based treatment decisions – are transforming the ways people access and utilize health services. Digital solutions created to expand coverage of services, support frontline practitioners, and empower individuals to have more agency in their health journeys are fundamental to achieving ambitious targets to ensure billions more are protected from health emergencies and enjoy better health and well-being.
However, the uptake of digital health solutions has been uneven in practice and historically underfunded, with many countries directing only 0-1% of public health budgets toward digital health. Across all geographies, fragmented approaches to data governance and system design risk contributing to existing inequities in healthcare.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in the delivery of healthcare, there is critical work ahead to ensure those innovations help improve, not undermine, health equity,” said Vilas Dhar, President of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. “With these grants, we are focused on building essential capacity to use data, digital tools, and artificial intelligence to design people-centered, accessible models of care.”
“To fully realize the benefits of digital innovation in health, including artificial intelligence, greater investments are needed in enabling building blocks – from supporting government and practitioner decision-making to ensuring data systems are responsive and inclusive,” noted Rebecca Distler, the Foundation’s Strategist for AI, Data, and Digital Health. “Our new grants reflect ongoing exploration of how to ensure digitally-enabled approaches continue to put people and communities at the center of health interventions.”
The portfolio includes a wide range of organizations – from new and small nonprofits to established research institutions – working in countries across four continents. It collectively represents an ecosystem approach, from standards and exchange architectures to research and project implementation to governance and practitioner support.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, which shares our commitment to advancing health equity through data-driven and country-led solutions,” Nithya Ramanathan, CEO & Co-Founder of Nexleaf Analytics, said. “Our organizations believe that by supporting practitioners and investing in local leadership, countries can be equipped to drive their own decisions and build lasting, scalable digital solutions.”