Best practices in scaling digital health in low and middle income countries

Alain B. Labrique, Christina Wadhwani, Koku Awoonor Williams, Peter Lamptey, Cees Hesp, Rowena Luk, Ann Aerts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Healthcare challenges in low and middle income countries (LMICs) have been the focus of many digital initiatives that have aimed to improve both access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare delivery. Moving beyond the initial phase of piloting and experimentation, these initiatives are now more clearly focused on the need for effective scaling and integration to provide sustainable benefit to healthcare systems. Based on real-life case studies of scaling digital health in LMICs, five key focus areas have been identified as being critical for success. Firstly, the intrinsic characteristics of the programme or initiative must offer tangible benefits to address an unmet need, with end-user input from the outset. Secondly, all stakeholders must be engaged, trained and motivated to implement a new initiative, and thirdly, the technical profile of the initiative should be driven by simplicity, interoperability and adaptability. The fourth focus area is the policy environment in which the digital healthcare initiative is intended to function, where alignment with broader healthcare policy is essential, as is sustainable funding that will support long-term growth, including private sector funding where appropriate. Finally, the extrinsic ecosystem should be considered, including the presence of the appropriate infrastructure to support the use of digital initiatives at scale. At the global level, collaborative efforts towards a less-siloed approach to scaling and integrating digital health may provide the necessary leadership to enable innovative solutions to reach healthcare workers and patients in LMICs. This review provides insights into best practice for scaling digital health initiatives in LMICs derived from practical experience in real-life case studies, discussing how these may influence the development and implementation of health programmes in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103
JournalGlobalization and health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 3 2018


  • Digital health
  • Health policy
  • Health system
  • Intervention
  • Programme sustainability
  • low and middle income countries
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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