Circuit Board

Tech & Health


At the Harvard Global Health Institute, we believe that technology has enormous potential to improve health outcomes around the world. At the same time, we know there is a lot of hype surrounding its application. Digital tools present opportunities as well as challenges, and each of these play out differently depending on the context. In collaboration with partners across industries and sectors, HGHI is bringing together experts to explore unanswered questions at the intersection of tech and health; highlighting leading voices in low- and middle-income countries, and catalyzing groundbreaking research in the field.

Through a wide array of projects, we are leveraging our collective expertise in data science, public health, and international development to create community, build a body of evidence, and share a larger vision for the way in which technology can – and cannot – address pressing health needs. 

Artificial Intelligence in Global Health

HGHI recognizes that artificial intelligence has enormous potential in low- and middle-income countries, but there are critical barriers to reaching that potential. To explore this further, we hosted Hype vs. Reality: The Role of AI in Global Health in February 2019. The key takeaway: many AI efforts in the world are duplicative; learning is restricted and not inclusive; and more conversation is needed on the ground with local experts. 

In response, HGHI partnered with the Novartis Foundation and MIT Critical Data to create the Data Science and AI Summits for Health, which aim to bring together leading experts across disciplines and geographies to unpack critical questions about the role of AI in healthcare. 

Together, we hosted an 8-part webinar series that highlighted pressing themes at the intersection of AI, COVID-19, and low resource settings. We gathered experts from over 10 countries for practical conversations on ways to leverage technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. We showcased voices that often go unheard and catalyzed unexpected partnerships between stakeholders in the global North and South.

Big Data for Local Challenges 

HGHI aims to produce research that has community level impact. We partnered with Google and various health departments across the United States harness the power of search and location data. In our study, Machine-learned epidemiology: real-time detection of foodborne illness at scale, we found that this data can be a critical tool for alerting health departments to which restaurants may be contributing to foodborne illness in their communities.  

Catalyzing COVID-19 Research

Time is everything when it comes to responding to COVID-19. In recognition of this, HGHI is partnering with Google Cloud to enable researchers to harness the power of the Cloud in their fight against COVID-19. Google is offering a pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits and HGHI has assembled a team of experts across disciplines to review submissions and award credits.