What a year. When 2020 began we were poised to continue the successful expansion of our health professional digital education content, primarily focused on new mothers and their children. Convinced that digital health education solutions can improve health outcomes, we continued to develop and hone an approach to scaling health education globally. Our randomized and controlled breast feeding, tablet-based educational study was nearing completion and its rigorous evaluation aimed at identifying the importance of digital health education was scheduled for analysis.

Before March, we regarded the development and distribution of maternal and child health education as the clearest pathway to improving global health outcomes. And then came the onslaught of the pandemic. We quickly made the decision to redeploy all of our resources to respond to the critical educational needs necessary to understand, prevent and treat COVID-19, especially in under resourced communities.

Our talented creative teams at Stanford and in Cape Town, guided by Stanford faculty content experts, created visually rich digital infographics, animations, and short videos, designed to resonate with community health workers and their clients in countries around the world. The content focused on the prevention of transmission of coronavirus, the recognition and management of infected individuals, and the collateral damage resulting from social isolation, including strains on mental health.

Concurrently, we forged critical collaborations with new distribution partners including Medic Mobile, CommCare by Dimagi, Viamo, and the Community Health Impact Coalition and expanded our work with existing collaborators, including Noora Health and Last Mile Health to assure that our content had the widest possible global impact. Our evaluation team worked to determine if our intended impact was attained so that we could recalibrate and reiterate as needed. Our generous funders stood by us and supported our decision to veer from our pre-pandemic programmatic plans to lend the necessary support to one of the greatest global health challenges of the last century.

There has never been a more urgent example of the critical need for access to reliable and rapidly scalable health education. We were fortunate to have been able to contribute as a result of our work in mobile digital health education for several years prior to the pandemic. I am proud of our entire team and grateful for their expertise, dedication, selflessness, and passion.

I have no doubt that 2021 will be a year of recovery, continued growth, and impact.

Charles Prober, MD

Senior Associate Vice Provost for Health Education at Stanford University
Founding Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Health Education
Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford School of Medicine

View our COVID-19 resources here.