Digital Health Platform Handbook: Building a Digital Information Infrastructure (Infostructure) for Health

The COVID-19 global health emergency has dramatically underlined the importance of harnessing the full power of digital technologies to strengthen health systems and programmes. The Digital Health Platform Handbook, a new resource by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and WHO (World Health Organization), aims to assist countries with the advancement of their national digital health system, specifically through the use of a digital health platform, or DHP.

This digital platform provides the underlying foundation for the various digital health applications and systems used to support health and care services. It enables individual applications and systems to interoperate and work together in an integrated manner. It provides a central hub, linking together disparate and unconnected systems and applications, enabling faster, more efficient and more reliable information exchange, and promoting increased access to health data across a range of applications and devices.

The publication recognises the tremendous promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) for transforming health care. IoT refers to the networking of physical devices and other objects in our everyday environment through embedded technology, allowing these devices to collect and exchange data. IoT devices can range from wearable health monitors or fitness trackers to embedded sensors in furniture, buildings, and household objects, such as scales, appliances, and medication dispensers. Many of the sensors in these devices work in conjunction with a smartphone app, allowing the user control over the device as well as the ability to view the data. IoT hardware is also being built into many smartphones, transforming them into IoT wearables. In addition to tying into smartphone apps that are physically present with the user, IoT networks can connect to remote computer systems via ICT infrastructure.

The handbook is available at