The design and development of technology platforms in a developing country healthcare context from an ecosystem perspective
CITATION: Herman, H., Grobbelaar, S. S. & Pistorius, C. 2020. The design and development of technology platforms in a developing country healthcare context from an ecosystem perspective. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 20:55, doi:10.1186/s12911-020-1028-0.
The original publication is available at https://bmcmedinformdecismak.biomedcentral.com
Background: Research on the development and functioning of technology platforms specifically for health applications in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), is limited. The healthcare sector has also been resistant to platform adoption due to characteristics such as sensitive data and high cost of failure. A framework for the design, development and implementation of technology platforms in the South African health context could therefore contribute to the gap in research as well as provide a practical tool that platform owners could use to potentially increase the adoption of platforms in this context. Methods: The research design for this study was based on the Grounded Theory Conceptual Framework Analysis process. The process focused on mapping and investigating data sources, categorising and integrating concepts, synthesising these concepts into a framework and iteratively evaluating the framework. The first stage of the evaluation process was a preliminary evaluation exploring an existing Health platform in South Africa (MomConnect). The second evaluation stage included local and international interviews with nine experts to identify any missing concepts in the framework. Stage three included a case study and case study interviews which led to the formulation of the final framework and management tool. Results: The developed and evaluated framework comprised three components, namely the pre-use component, which includes considerations the platform owner should be aware of prior to using the framework. The framework comprises of two dimensions, 1) an ecosystem dimension to guide the platform owner to consider different ecosystem actors before embarking on designing a platform 2) a platform development dimension that include typical platform development components and presents an interpretation of the viewpoints included in the ecosystem levels. Conclusions: The final framework can be used by platform owners as a management tool. A unique contribution of this study is that the framework draws from two platform perspectives, namely the engineering and the economic perspectives to provide a holistic understanding of platforms. Finally, a contribution of this article is the tailoring of the framework for the South African health context.