IGF 2023 WS #83 Assessing the Promise and Efficacy of Digital Health Tool

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (06:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (08:15 UTC)
WS 5 – Room B-2

Human Rights & Freedoms
Digital Technologies and Rights to Health

Organizer 1: Anna Bosch, Innovators Network Foundation
Organizer 2: Brian Scarpelli, 🔒

Speaker 1: GEORGINA NAIGULEVU, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Sveatoslav Vizitiu, Private Sector, Eastern European Group
Speaker 3: Jelena Malinina, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Frank Richard, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Lucienne Ide, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Brian Scarpelli, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Anna Bosch, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Anna Bosch, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. Is connected health the right solution to improve healthcare disparities, even as the need for remote healthcare services inevitably subsides? What are the opportunities and risks of supplementing traditional healthcare with AI-powered analytics tools? 2. What is the best way to bridge the digital divide that not only separates rural areas from urban but the global south and developing nations from the rest of the world in terms of access to digital health? 3. How can policymakers ensure that patients retain strong privacy and security assurances as the provision of some healthcare moves from in-person to online?

What will participants gain from attending this session? For each of the areas of interest, introductory short presentations/remarks by experts will provide basic knowledge and discuss important trade-offs. The moderator will ensure the active participation of the audience, who will be able to intervene and ask questions to the experts. Sufficient time will be given to online participants to ask questions, by the online participant. Following these initial interventions, the roundtable will get to the heart of the debate, guided by the moderator who will begin by giving an opportunity to online and in-person participants to pose questions and discuss views on the strategies presented. The moderator will guide the debate to find common ground between views brought forward. In addition to the background documents and papers that will be prepared ahead of the IGF, additional articles of interest, reference materials, and social media conversations will be published and distributed ahead of the workshop.


Healthcare outcomes are often unbalanced. Whereas educated, urban, broadband-connected, and higher-income people typically have greater access to high-quality healthcare and resources, rural, lower-income, less educated, and populations of color struggle to access quality care—and health outcomes are significantly worse than those found in the first group. This dynamic plays out globally and domestically. Yet when COVID-19 catalyzed rapid change in several sectors, an opportunity arose in the connected healthcare industry as well. Many providers adopted telehealth and remote monitoring to offer patients alternate means of accessing care during a challenging time. These technologies offer great potential outside of social-distancing mandates as well, as they can provide patients with greater control and personalization in their treatment and could become even more beneficial with the continued advancement of certain promising AI technologies. However, these technologies also bring no shortage of challenges. Those most in need of connected healthcare are the ones who are least able to access it. Impediments include a lack of smartphone access and internet coverage in rural areas, as well as regulatory barriers stemming from legacy approaches to healthcare. Greater provision of healthcare over the internet also enhances opportunities for cyberattacks and can create new privacy risks. Now with three years of data to draw conclusions from, have these technologies helped to even the playing field and make higher-quality care available to more people? Is it even possible to assess their effectiveness given the confounding variable of a global pandemic? Are any advances likely to sustain themselves beyond the pandemic? This panel will evaluate the extent to which digital health tools deployed during the pandemic improved the world's response to health disparities in geographies, communities, and demographics. The panel will also assess where those tools have fallen short and how to improve outcomes and mitigate risks going forward.

Expected Outcomes

1. Understand the spectrum of opportunities and challenges that telehealth brings to communities, and how those opportunities and challenges are mediated by socio-economic factors. 2. Evaluate the empirical evidence concerning the provision of telehealth during the pandemic. 3. Learn about what the IGF community can do to further action and cross-sector collaboration to realize the potential and work through challenges that surfaced in the conversation. 4. Share diverse perspectives regarding the discrete priorities and/or changes needed from the IGF community to combat these challenges and harness opportunities.

Hybrid Format: The online moderator will encourage remote participation through various social networking platforms in addition to the platform provided by the IGF Secretariat. After the first round of interventions, the discussion section of the roundtable will open up with an invitation to online participants to weigh in on the strategies discussed and pose questions to the speakers. The organizing team will work to promote the activity on social media and will specially invite relevant stakeholders to join the session and share questions ahead of the debate. Online participants will be given priority to speak, and their participation will be encouraged by the online and in-person moderators. In-person moderator has previously moderated numerous panels at IGF and other events through the normal course of work and are comfortable with the tasks and skills necessary to engender a lively conversation and fulsome audience participation.