Understanding Digital Self Care In The Context of Health Systems

Uncategorized Jun 26, 2021

WOW is a member of the The Self-Care Trailblazer Group (SCTG)  a global coalition of partners dedicated to advancing the evidence, practice, learning and policy landscape of self-care for sexual and reproductive health and rights. In 2020-2021, the SCTG are supporting the adoption and implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Consolidated Guideline for Self-Care Interventions for Health as well as support the wider community in advancing self-care at the global, regional, national and local levels.   

For us at WOW Self Care School, supporting our sisters in low income countries is an important part of our work. Over the coming months we will be rolling out our community partnerships and how together we will be supporting these partners. Stay tuned for more.

There is no doubt COVID-19 has changed the way we live and access health servicesAs health systems and people transition towards self-care to shore up stressed healthcare systems and meet their health needs, digital health services create new opportunities to increase individual agency, in turn accelerating the overall improvement of health outcomes. 

There is much talk at the moment about digital self care and apps and platforms abound but how are they constructed. What is the user experience, privacy and more.

We know, when well designeddigital self-care increases people’s self-awareness of their health needs, encouraging safe self-testing with appropriate followup. It also helps people self-manage their own health conditions, with reliable linkages to high quality information and health providers.  

 Digital self-care can facilitate and promote selfcare for people seeking services or information within the public or private sectors, while maintaining privacy for individuals engaging in self-motivated health behaviours. Leveraging digital technology can also reach people in new ways, helping minimize stigma and discrimination associated with sensitive health areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights.  

How Digital Health Helps Access To Health Systems

 The intersection of self-care and digital health has the potential to increase access to critical health services but also presents challenges and possible barriers. There has never been a more relevant time to develop practical guidance for effectively designed, implemented and researched digital health in support of self-care.  

Understanding the digital self care framework for design, implementation and evaluation requires also understanding the self care continuum and can change depending upon the social context, available infrastructure and clinical risk of the self care activity. Digital tools provide options and personalised support and messages that can fit into an individual's circumstances and independence comfort level.

From simple telephone hotlines, live chat messages, or SMS to more recent advances in artificial intelligence algorithms and chat bots, methods of digital engagement fall on a spectrum of digital complexity. Digital complexity influences access for users, as more advanced technology requires more modern smartphones, data usage and digital literacy. The selection of pre-existing digital platforms or services over the development of new applications will depend on the target audience's needs, access and available resources to find appropriate and sustainable digital entry points.

An understanding of digital self care is built on the foundation of self care within the context of the health system represented by the pyramid  diagram (adapted from Remme et al., 20190. One face of this pyramid shows the position and importance of self care as the foundation of both the formal and informal health systems. On the adjoining face of the pyramid, self care plays a role in all levels of health interactions, through self awareness, self testing and self management behaviours that are important in all aspects of health care and health behaviours not just in the base of the pyramid.

Source: Digital Self Care: A framework for design, implementation and evaluation

The Self-Care Trailblazer Group is a global coalition of partners dedicated to advancing the evidence, practice, learning and policy landscape of self-care for sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

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