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‘Serious Games’ for unboxing Global Digital Health policymaking
  1. Myron Anthony Godinho1,
  2. Ann Borda2,
  3. Patty Kostkova3,
  4. Andreea Molnar4,
  5. Siaw-Teng Liaw1
  1. 1WHO Collaborating Centre for eHealth, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Digital Transformation of Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3IRDR Centre for Digital Public Health in Emergencies, University College London, London, UK
  4. 4Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Myron Anthony Godinho, WHO Collaborating Centre for eHealth, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia; m.godinho{at}unsw.edu.au

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The news headlines report daily on the global political impacts of digital technology: the secondary use of social media data has been implicated in election meddling, though the complex issues surrounding data governance, data ownership and the ethics of personalised advertising remain to be addressed. Meanwhile, digital automation drives unemployment and income inequality, even as the global digital divide exacerbates discrepancies in access. The WHO’s ‘Global strategy on Digital Health’ outlines a vision of ‘Global Digital Health’ (GDH), calling for partnerships, networks, public goods and a research agenda for engineering the ‘GDH ecosystem’. As policymakers consider the political implications of the digital age with suspicion and caution, what are the repercussions for realising GDH?

GDH policymaking: the need for participatory approaches

While GDH necessitates technical innovations such as interoperability standards, it also requires ‘social innovations’ for ensuring that the digital revolution meets its social objectives.1 Participatory methodologies (eg, citizen engagement, co-design, co-production) can play a key role in ensuring that social risks are pre-empted and prevented, or identified early and resolved.2 Emerging examples of civic technology supporting digital democracy include participatory governance platforms like vTaiwan (info.vtaiwan.tw), Decide Madrid (decide.madrid.es) and CitizenLab (www.citizenlab.co). Similarly, participatory approaches could be used to prevent policy challenges from stalling progress towards GDH, by enabling a deeper and wider understanding of the processes …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors MAG conceptualised the work, drafted and revised it critically for important intellectual content, approved the final version to be published and agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work. AB conceptualised the work, drafted and revised it critically for important intellectual content, approved the final version to be published and agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work. PK conceptualised the work, drafted and revised it critically for important intellectual content, approved the final version to be published and agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work. AM conceptualised the work, drafted and revised it critically for important intellectual content, approved the final version to be published and agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work. STL conceptualised the work, drafted and revised it critically for important intellectual content, approved the final version to be published and agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note This authorship collaboration emerged from a discussion between AB and MAG, where areas of common interest and conceptual overlaps were identified, and each then engaged their respective working groups to collaboratively write this paper and provide expert perspectives on a topic of shared aims. PK, AM and AB brought together the fields of Digital Public Health, Computer Science and Software engineering and Health Informatics, respectively, for their paper on 'Serious Games and Participatory Research in Public Health', which was recently presented at the 9th International Digital Public Health Conference (November 2019, Marseilles, France). In this, MAG discovered the language and thinking to outline this framework for expanding his prior work on educational health policy debate simulations into the digital space, as guided and supervised by TL at the WHO Collaborating Centre for eHealth, (SPHCM, UNSW Sydney).

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