In 2011, the Health Enterprise Architecture Laboratory (HeAL) was established in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The purpose of the lab was to develop research and development capacity in health informatics as well as architectural artefacts and software products in digital health for application in low resource settings. In addition to producing world-class PhD and MSc graduates, the HeAL was instrumental in the development of a number of strategically relevant digital health products that have been implemented as part of national integrated health information systems in several African countries and adopted by the international community, such as the Open Health Information Exchange (OpenHIE).
The specific objectives of the HeAL were: (i) to establish an innovation ecosystem structure for rapid research, innovation and technology transfer; (ii) develop capacity in local implementation organisations by offering specialized Computer Science postgraduate degrees in health informatics to senior technical personnel, and; (iii) conduct research in relevant technologies required for coherent, effective and sustainable national health information systems in sub-Saharan Africa.
In order to realize its cross-cutting objectives, the lab needed to establish strategic partnerships with implementing organisations and other research and academic institutions. A strategy and structure were required to effectively coordinate and leverage expertise from each partner. The lab developed the HeAL Innovation and Development Ecosystem (IDE) model to manage the structural and functional evolution of the HeAL during its period of operation. The final ecosystem model, as shown above, describes the flow of innovation from the field environment (implementing partners) to the HeAL applied research environment where the ideas and requirements are researched and developed into specifications that, in turn, are productionised back into the field environment. The HeAL consolidated and formalized its partnership with Jembi Health Systems NPC as a ‘living lab’.
To see some of the projects that are currently available in the lab environment, please visit our HeAL KIOSK