As low- and middle-income countries transition from paper to digital systems, family planning programs can benefit from unprecedented opportunities to improve services. Investments in digital health tools have expanded exponentially, but information on what works—and what does not— remains limited and scattered. As investments have increased, digital applications and data fragmentation have proliferated, but stakeholders are moving towards more coordinated efforts to scale digital health solutions, support countries’ digital health infrastructure, and share evidence-based learnings.
This Digital Health Compendium enables users to explore case studies across a range of digital health technologies used to enhance family planning programs mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in other regions of the world. Digital health applications in family planning programs can be broadly classified as those affecting demand generation, service delivery, supply chain management, and the policy and enabling environment. In many low- and middle-income countries, digital health innovations were adopted earlier in other health sectors, including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and noncommunicable disease prevention and response. As a result, much of the impact evidence is likewise restricted to those sectors. To advance greater adoption of digital technology in family planning programs, more data and information on the challenges, opportunities, scalability, and results are needed. This compendium aims to consolidate emerging information and data on applications of digital technology in family planning programs to inform adoption and scale-up of successful approaches.
All of the case studies were submitted by the implementing organizations and include a description of the digital health intervention, program context, and, if available, important findings and lessons learned through rigorous evaluations or program data. The compendium facilitates a quick search for case studies based on the target user for digital health intervention, building block for the digital health enabling environment, family planning program classification, and country location. The case studies give policy and program decisionmakers insights on real-world applications of digital health, promising practices, challenges, and other lessons that can be applied to current and future programs.
A global Digital Acceleration Strategy (DAS) that leverages digital channels including social media, telemedicine, e-counseling, and e-pharmacy platforms to safely continue providing consumers with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) self-care information, connecting clients to care, and delivering high-quality products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on the learnings from the DAS, PSI will be expanding its digital work to a holistic sexual health and wellness offering through the launch of VIYA, PSI's first global lifestyle brand.
i. Betty Abera, Senior Marketing Manager, Social Enterprise, PSI ii. Andrea Novella, Digital Health Advisor, PSI
iii. Vidhi Kalra, Digital Marketing Manager, PSI India
iv. Jorge Rivas, Marketing and Social Franchise Senior Manager, PSI LAC
v. Kenneth Kiiza Mulogo, Sales and marketing Analyst, PSI Uganda
Population Services International
India Private Limited, PSI
PSI South Africa
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
An anonymous donor in Uganda
David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Decision Support, Referral Services, Client, Health Care Provider
Services and Applications, Workforce
Demand Generation, Service Delivery, Supply Chain Management
A global Digital Acceleration Strategy (DAS) that leverages digital channels including social media, telemedicine, e-counseling, and e-pharmacy platforms to safely continue providing consumers with Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) self-care information, connecting clients to care, and delivering high-quality products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Population Services International (PSI)’s Social Business Unit (SBU), established in 2018, seeks to strike a balance between commercial viability and social impact by delivering high-quality and affordable SRHR products and services through social business in 21 countries across Southeast Asia, East/South Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The SBU’s socially marketed SRHR product offerings include condoms, oral contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, injectables, medical abortion kits, intrauterine devices, and implants.
In March 2020, after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, many of the countries where PSI’s SBU operates imposed movement restrictions. Such restrictions limited the SBU’s marketing and distribution activities and hampered clients’ ability to travel to physical storefronts to purchase SRHR products. The SBU rapidly adapted to these new conditions by implementing the COVID-19 DAS in 10 countries (India, Uganda, South Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Dominican Republic) with a plan to expand to additional countries where the SBU operates.
The global DAS aims to leverage a variety of digital channels to safely continue providing consumers with SRHR self-care information through social media campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, connect clients to care through telemedicine and e-counseling platforms, and deliver high-quality products through e-pharmacies, e-retailers, and uber-like applications. When the pandemic hit, consumer engagement on digital channels had increased globally  providing an opportunity for the SBU to leverage digital channels to support business continuity and provision of SRHR information, products, and services.
Moving forward, PSI will also be applying the learnings of the DAS and expanding its offering through the launch of VIYA, its first global sexual wellness lifestyle brand, harnessing technology including artificial intelligence, e-commerce, and telemedicine to deliver SRHR information, products, and services to women across low and middle-income countries.
The global DAS approach included harmonizing existing technology to provide on-demand information through popular social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, connect consumers to care through high-quality digital health tools such as telemedicine and e-counseling platforms, and ensure access to products and services by signposting consumers to e-pharmacies, e-retailers and uber-like applications customized to the local context.
Consumer Journey in India
Globally, the DAS helped reach millions of people with SRHR information and connected thousands of clients to services and products. Between April-October 2020, across 10 countries in South-East Asia, East/South Africa, and the LAC region, the DAS ran 373 ads on social media platforms, reached 39.5 million individuals with key messaging, received over 2.5 million engagements, and over 126,000 one-on-one conversations. To connect clients to products and services, the SBU built several partnerships with social media, telemedicine, and e-commerce/ home delivery platforms.
In India, which represents a fast-growing digital health market, the “Between Us” Facebook and Instagram platforms launched in June 2020, reached an average of 1.2 million people each month with messaging between June-November 2020. After partnering with an e-consultation website in June 2020, The SBU linked nearly 600 young women to an e-consultation between July – November 2020.
In the LAC region, which represents a growing digital health market, three digital campaigns deployed across seven countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic) reached over 11 million people with messaging, and received over 1.6 million engagements and over 42,000 one-on-one conversations between April-October 2020.
In Uganda, which represents a nascent digital health market, a June 2020 digital campaign reached 1.2 million people with messaging, received over 41,000 engagements, and linked people to three different SRHR product retailers between June – September 2020.
The DAS demonstrates how leveraging existing technology and harmonizing online solutions to inform, connect people to care, and deliver SRHR products to clients’ homes helps to leapfrog healthcare barriers and support access to SRHR during COVID-19 and beyond. These results also point to a hopeful promise: COVID-19 can be the catalyst for an SRHR digital transformation.
PSI’s SBU will be integrating and improving a number of these digital adaptations when the COVID-19 pandemic is less acute including continuing the use of campaigns and social media platforms for on-demand SRHR information, improving partnerships with e-pharmacies in India, and continuing to provide at home product delivery. PSI will also be leveraging learnings from DAS to refine and scale its global consumer facing digital health work to a holistic offering delivered through VIYA, an online platform that provides consumers with the tools needed to own their health journeys by increasing access to sexual wellness information, products, and services.
PSI’s COVID-19 adaptations in India and Uganda were documented through Research for Scalable Solutions (R4S), a global project funded by USAID and led by FHI 360 in partnership with Evidence for Sustainable Human Development Systems in Africa (EVIHDAF), Makerere University School of Public Health in Uganda (MakSPH), PSI, and Save the Children (STC).