Module 10: Challenges in Communication

In this course, we have seen various ways in which healthcare delivery in the developing world is shaped by the limitations of various resources. We have seen how different nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations have found innovative solutions to these challenges. However, many of these organizations still face a common challenge that needs to be addressed to maximize success as they move forward. In the global health field, there is a need for more transparency. (1) Studies have shown that non-profit organizations are less accountable than for-profits, which throws into question the reliability of data reported, especially because the exaggeration or fabrication of results could have positive financial consequences for the organization. Beyond fact-checking, transparency would also allow an open source of public data that could establish standards and methods for optimal care delivery and practice.(2)

One of the primary ways in which this challenge could be met is the use of Web 2.0 technologies, which have been used primarily in the developed world. “Web 2.0” is a term associated with online technologies that allow extensive user interactivity, collaboration with others, and information sharing. Some prominent Web 2.0 examples include Wikipedia and Facebook. In the developing world, some Web 2.0 technologies that have great potential for the developing world include wikis in the form of editable field manuals, online patient databases, blogs featuring patient cases, maps for planning of programs and services, and online budgets to ensure cost efficacy. Some benefits of implementing these technologies include institutional memory and critical feedback.(3)      

Nevertheless, there are a number of challenges and limitations to implementing these technologies. First of all, there is a general lack of internet infrastructure, which will be a central development in the modernization of many countries. Patients and staff are oftentimes not computer literate. Additionally, while electronic data collection is accepted as a part of the culture of the developed world, such notions have yet to take hold in the developing world. It is also important that electronic data collection maintains high standards of patient confidentiality. All of these steps need the cooperation of many organizations and the implementation of universal standards, which “will improve clinical effectiveness and resource allocation to build a truly rigorous and innovative science of global health delivery.”(4)

Footnotes

(1) Maru, D.S.R., Sharma, A., Andrews, J., Basu, S., Thapa, J., Oza, S., Bashyal, C., Achartya, B. and Schwarz, R. “Global Health Delivery 2.0: Using Open-Access Technologies for Transparency and Operations Research.” PLOS Medicine. 6.12 (2009): 1-5. Accessed on June 8, 2010.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid, p. 4.