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These insights are also expected to refine knowledge products on ICT solutions for social (health) protection at the global level.

2021 Activities

AeHIN 7th General Meeting

The Asia eHealth Information Network held its seventh AeHIN General Meeting. This year’s theme discussed Strengthening Regional Health Systems Response to COVID-19 focusing on digital health experiences in Asia.

The conference was held virtually for the first time on all Thursdays of January 2021. A total of 328 participants from 42 countries in and outside of the Asian region attended the conference. Attendees were from governments, the academe, non-profit organizations, and the development sector.

During the Opening Ceremony, AeHIN partners shared messages carrying the importance of the Governance, Architecture, Project Management, and Standards and Interoperability Framework to set the mood of the whole conference.

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Mr. Saurav Bhattarai, the representative from the GIZ Headquarters, discussed using standards-based tools and leveraging what is already available to avoid duplication of efforts. He stressed that “we needed digital health tools running on open and standards-based architectures that facilitate interoperability to ensure that we can effectively fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On the third day of the conference, a parallel community meeting for the openIMIS Regional Hub Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka) was facilitated by AeHIN to gather their ideas on how to best move forward with the community of practice. One of the suggestions was to use a common learning management system for learning openIMIS and to scale up the visibility of openIMIS in policy-oriented discussions in respective countries. Another suggestion is to use openIMIS as a bridge to strengthen the collaboration between the ministry of finance and the ministry of health.

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During the Partner Share session, Saurav Bhattarai also gave updates on GIZ projects. He began by introducing openIMIS and continued to share activities during the past year such as continuing their support to their existing implementations that manage the data of over five million beneficiaries. They have also been working on new implementations and functionalities and expanding openIMIS for other social protection schemes. 

The team is also continuing to focus on standards and interoperability. He shared that they have been “mapping openIMIS data model to be FHIR-compliant as well as working on direct interoperability with our other global goods such as DHIS2, OpenMRS, and Bahmni.”

Another important update from the openIMIS Initiative was the openIMIS Catalytic Implementation Fund that intends to “provide support to scheme operators that want to use openIMIS to manage their various social health protection schemes or beyond.”

AeHIN Hour - openIMIS Webinars 2021

Since 2019, AeHIN and the openIMIS have been working on organizing webinars to help bring information, updates, and discussions about openIMIS between the initiative and its communities of practice in Asia.

The first webinar for 2021 was held on March 9th with Saurav Bhattarai and Konstanz Lange, Advisors at the openIMIS Coordination Desk in GIZ, as speakers.

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In this webinar, they introduced the openIMIS Catalytic Implementation Fund, a “mechanism to allow resources to be made available for getting started with openIMIS implementations.” They also explained the various use cases where it can be applied and provided details on the procedures related to getting access to the fund.

The webinar recording is available at https://youtu.be/4lfv_SlXjwE .

Other openIMIS webinars are available at https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLN7M3nT7qGnfu329R2YTiuLQV_m4J6vIO.

openIMIS Enrollment App Testing

In mid-March, the AeHIN secretariat team contributed to testing the openIMIS enrollment application.

AeHIN focused on testing the openIMIS enrollment application via Android. The team used the openIMIS test link in documenting the test results. 

The four AeHIN secretariat members were assigned to different parts of the enrollment application to manage the testing faster. Most items took a few minutes to complete.

Lao PDR Convergence Workshop - Use of openIMIS in Nepal

The Lao PDR Convergence Workshop Meeting was held last March 30-31, 2021. It was conducted to help strengthen the digital health sector of Lao with the help of experts from the Asia eHealth Information Network, development partners, and other government agencies in the country.

The workshop’s expected outcome is the development of a digital health architecture blueprint and a digital health strategy for the Lao PDR health sector with the aim of improving coordination and harmonization among all stakeholders towards a sustainable and interoperable health information system.

AeHIN presented the AeHIN Mind the GAPS (Governance, Architecture, Program Management, and Standards, and Interoperability) Framework, which was the basis of strategy development sessions during the workshop. 

Neighboring countries also shared their experiences in the Digital Health Strategy Development session. Dr. Bikash Devkota, Director of Quality Standards and Regulation Division from the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal shared the country’s digital health journey after their first convergence workshop. One of the lessons they learned is that digitalization is a major component for quality care as it makes service easier and efficient. With this regard, they prioritized digitalization in health. 

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Dr. Damodar Basaula, Executive Director Health Insurance Board Nepal discussed how openIMIS played a big part in the country’s health digitalization, especially in managing Nepal’s national health insurance. 

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The Health Insurance Scheme of Nepal is a contribution-based Security Health Insurance (SHI) scheme with subsidies for the ultrapoor, poor, and the marginalized. The Nepal Health Insurance Board (HIB) manages it entirely. It is currently implemented in 69 districts and has a total of 3.7 million beneficiaries.

openIMIS supports the management of the core business processes of the Nepal HIB from the enrollment to verification of beneficiaries, claims generation, claims review, and data analysis. At present, there are 375 hospitals using openIMIS to send claims digitally, and there are 7,335 openIMIS users.

The Nepal HIB is part of the openIMIS community of practice since 2016. They share report bugs and issues, request new features, and discuss various technical topics with the community. The openIMIS community has provided them a platform for exchange and has given regular updates, especially new features.

Dr. Basaulaa shared that the use of openIMIS in Nepal expedited the implementation of the Management Information System (MIS) for health insurance in Nepal. They also received support from the community of practice when needed, and the new versions of the openIMIS software are available regularly.

Nepal has learned that they need local capacities to manage and maintain software. Local teams have to lead implementations, and the openIMIS global community is available to support their local efforts.

AeHIN x APMC-SN M.D.igital 2021: National Telehealth Convention

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AeHIN has co-presented this year’s M.D.igital Telehealth Convention with the theme “The Role of Medical Students in the Global Digital Health Strategy 2020-2025” last April 24-25, 2021.

The online conference, initiated by the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Student Network (APMC-SN), served as a venue to discuss the role of medical students in the Global Digital Health Strategy 2020-2025. It was attended by 461 attendees.

AeHIN helped the students in pooling experts from the Asian and global regions to present updates on digital health.

On the first day of the conference, three panel sessions with experts from the Philippines was held to discuss eHealth platforms, electronic medical records, and teleconsultations in the country.

In the afternoon, experts from the World Health Organization talked about digital health, particularly the strategies, capacity building curriculum, interventions, and recommendations in strengthening health systems advocated by the WHO.

Dr. Boonchai Kijsanayotin, Chair of the Asia eHealth Information Network and a member of the WHO Digital Health Technical Advisory Group, presented the AeHIN Regional Call to Action for Digital Health. One of the expected outputs of the conference is to publish a paper on how student networks will align their strategies with the regional and global strategy for digital health.

Saurav Bhattarai from GIZ  Headquarters introduced openIMIS, an insurance management system. Dr. Azza Mohamed Badr, also an expert from the WHO, presented the WHO Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Strategic Implementation Plan for 2021-2025. Dr. Enrique Tayag from the Department of Health Philippines shared the Philippines' Current State of Telehealth Policy Framework, and Mr. Jai Ganesh, a member of the AeHIN Governing Committee, shared about digital health developments in India and telehealth during the pandemic.

On the second day of the conference, the morning session focused more on the technical side of digital health. Mr. Liam McCoy from the Massey College of the University of Toronto and Dr. Leo Celi from Harvard Medical School talked about what medical students need to know about Artificial Intelligence.

Experts from the AeHIN community also participated in the session. Dr. Prapat Suriyaphol from Siriraj Hospital in Mahidol University and lead(?) of the Standards and Interoperability Lab Thailand gave a presentation on standards and interoperability. Dr. Roshan from the University of Colombo talked about Health and Medical Informatics Human Resource Development in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Alvin Marcelo, Executive Director of the Asia eHealth Information Network, discussed the Open Health Information Exchange and this was followed by a panel with another set of experts from AeHIN, Dr. Fazilah Allaudin and Dr. Pamod Amarakoon, to talk about tools for the pandemic.

The final part of the program was spent with experts from the Philippines, sharing about teleconsultations and changes in the medical education curriculum.

The conference proceedings and the MDigital Paper will also be shared once available.

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Learn more about the Application of openIMIS in Medical Universities in the Philippines here.

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