MedInfo 2021 Panel Session - One Digital Health: Raising Global Priority for Health informatics in post-COVID era

Arriel BENIS a,b,[1], Catherine CHRONAKI c,

Anne MOEN d, Oscar TAMBURIS e

a Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Technology Management,
Holon Institute of Technology, Israel

b Faculty of Digital Technologies in Medicine,
Holon Institute of Technology, Israel

c HL7 International Foundation Europe, Brussels, Belgium

d Faculty of Medicine, Institute for Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

e Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Productions,
 University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

1. A Holistic view connecting Health Sciences to Data and Computing

The current positioning of Digital Health lies at the crossroad of engineering, technologies and informatics, as well as health, medicine and wellbeing. Digital Health offers novel opportunities and new ways for integrating electronic and computational tools in order to enhance efficiency, precision, and personalization in the health ecosystem.


The comprehensiveness of the One Health concept draws from, and integrates, all disciplines along the full chain linking human and animal health in the global health ecosystem. One Health research calls for a close collaboration of physicians, nurses, veterinarians, biologists and environmental sciences professionals. For example, consider the ways a potential zoonosis (like a highly pathogenic avian influenza) spreads up and how to control it; or the evaluation and the monitoring of environmental hazards such as acute air pollution on health systems and public health and health economics; or potential impact of resistant microbes entering the food chain and mitigation measures.


Such holistic views, both implying huge volume of data generated overtime by a large number of systems (dealing directly or non with health and/or environment) are highly likely to allow an acceleration in biomedical research discoveries, enhancement of public health efficacy, rapid development of the scientific knowledge base, as well as improvement in terms of health education, clinical care and citizen science, encouraging active citizen engagement. Hence a relatively new paradigm emerges, which goes by the name of One Digital Health, capable to integrate a broad computer (data) science with health informatics perspective (Digital Health) with a systemic approach of health and life sciences (One Health) [1]. The next generation of biomedical and health informatics researchers and practitioners will therefore have to actively deal with, and efficiently define, its components as critical transition points towards teaching such new philosophy along with its scientific, subject-matter, technological and regulatory implications.


The pervasiveness of Digital Health in day-to-day life from a human medicine perspective becomes evident when considering how many healthy individuals, chronic patients, and health management organizations use reminders smartphone applications and health monitoring wearables, and how COVID19 accelerated this use. A significantly less effort has instead been spent for what concerns veterinary health informatics than human health informatics [2,3]. This points out how much Health information technology (HIT) strives to improve health, healthcare, public health, and biomedical research [4].


One Digital Health is therefore looking at (digital) data and information of each one of the actors (or components) of the health ecosystem, as intent, processes and product of the health of all the other actors (or components) of the same ecosystem, to support the One Health perspective of the ecological environment as a whole comprising humans, animals, plants, and other environmental resources. The emerging awareness of shared risk faced by animal and human populations – the “One Health” approach – requires accordingly interdisciplinary collaboration between veterinary and human medical professionals. Here are emerging opportunities to leverage large amounts of unexplored data sources for zoonoses that can transmit (big) data and information, rapid and more accurately detect disease trends, outbreaks, pathogens and causes of their emergence. The same holds true for environmental resources, sewage, and waste management that have been regularly monitored, while managing COVID19.

2. Aim of the proposed Panel

The proposed panel on One Digital Health aims at discussing globally coordinated strategies for increased state and citizens’ awareness in the aftermath of the COVID19 crisis. In this context it will focus on the challenges of training future generation of “one” health informaticians to build the capacity needed to meet the data and computing needs of the One Health ecosystem [1].


One Digital Health comes with novel opportunities to integrate human, veterinary and environmental data to support personalized interventions, ensuring “predictive, personalized, preventive, participatory (P4)” processes end-to-end. Teaching and training students towards a One Digital Health perspective is therefore challenging due to its intrinsic complexity. One of the main challenges is to establish a systemic and integrated understanding of human and animal health and wellness in their common ecosystem, and how digital systems may support and improve them. To that end, Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Case-Based Learning (CBL) [2,3] are well-known ways that allow the learners to autonomously develop their skills.


The main learning outcomes will be for the participants to understand the One (Digital) Health concept, so as to discuss and reflect on the One Digital Health future perspectives and challenges. Therefore, during this event, the panelists will (i) introduce the core concepts One Health, Digital Health, and One Digital Health, their perspectives and challenges from clinical, research, educational, standards and industry perspectives; (ii) reflect on citizens’ capacity and understanding of One Digital Health; (iii) explore strategies for training future generations of One Digital Health professionals.


The goal of the panel is to increase capacity to deal with complex health problems, and especially how PBL/CBL activities can build awareness and health informatics connections in non-health academic curriculums, such as Industrial Engineering and Technology Management, and Agriculture Engineering [3,4], exploring the role of health informatics societies.


  • Benis A, Tamburis O, Chronaki C, Moen A. One Digital Health: a unified framework for future health ecosystems. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 24/01/2021:22189 (forthcoming/in press)
  • Benis A. Healthcare Informatics Project-Based Learning: An Example of a Technology Management Graduation Project Focusing on Veterinary Medicine. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018; 255: 267-271
  • Ricci FL, et al. HIN–Health Issue Network as Means to Improve Case-Based Learning in Health Sciences Education. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018; 255: 262-266.
  • Mantas J, et al., Recommendations of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) on education in biomedical and health informatics. Meth Inform Med. 2010; 49(02): 105-120.

[1] Corresponding author: Dr. Arriel Benis, Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Holon Institute of Technology – HIT, Golomb St 52, Holon, 5810201, Israel; e-mail: