The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the second edition of the Classification of digital interventions, services, and applications in health. This taxonomy supports the health, development, research, and technology sectors to precisely document and describe the uses of digital technology to address needs and advance health goals.
The publication updates the previous edition, published in 2018, under the title “Classification of digital health interventions v1.0”, and describes how digital health interventions embedded in digital services and applications can be used to address personal and health system challenges – the three axes around which the Classification is organized. The second edition includes new digital health interventions and a category on equity in the health systems challenges section, reflecting additions in the published literature. The “Systems Categories” section was similarly updated, to now include five services and applications groups aligned with the digital health architecture blueprint guidance. This section reflects the range of technology capabilities used in health, and the groupings are supported with descriptions.
Key drivers for using digital tools for health are to address performance gaps in the health system and to increase access to quality, timely, actionable information for the health workforce and health-seeking individuals. With ongoing technology advances, there has been a corresponding rise globally in the development and use of digital technologies in health and for health, to support person-centred healthcare as well as to augment routine prevention, management, diagnostic interventions and health care coordination by the health workforce. The updated Classification aims to serve as a resource for:
Systematizing the language used to describe needs and challenges present in the health system or experienced by users that may be addressed by digital interventions;
Standardizing the documentation, analysis, and reporting of digital interventions (DHIs), applications and services in health;
Articulating the digital capabilities (i.e., DHIs) which may be employed within digital technologies for health, to facilitate the development of requirements documentation;
Supporting the categorization of digital services and applications for digital health in support of inventory analysis, planning and investment coordination
As the health sector continues to leverage digital in health, and technology evolves over time, it is important to ensure the availability of up-to-date resources to guide and support this work. The Classification is a resource that can help stakeholders focused on health work alongside those focused on technology to understand and prioritize the development of, and implementation of digital technologies that respond to evolving priority health needs. It also provides a standardized nomenclature in support of designing research and curating findings on how digital health interventions contribute to health goals.
WHO has made available a feedback form, which can be accessed here, to allow interested stakeholders to propose additions, improvements or highlight other feedback that can feed into future updates.