Ask your question… Experts do have the answer !

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You find knowledge in books, on the internet, but knowledge is also inside each of us. It is this vision, perhaps trivial but crucial for the best performance of our health systems, which we have been trying to value and encourage for years with our communities of practice. The challenge is to make the best use of this gold mine, our common knowledge.

By Bruno Meessen

If you are a member of an online community, you may already be familiar with the following practice: a member asks a certain question to the community, and then community members provide answers, shared in a few lines or a particular document.

The 2,000+ experts of the Performance Based Financing CoP are quite used to this practice, which we call ‘Flash Consultation’: it allows them to get, very quickly, operational guidance to solve the challenges that arise. Recently, the Collectivity team has been exploring the possibility of improving and systematizing this practice. The starting point is that, thanks to digital technologies, the world is switching to a large interacting community. The challenge is to optimize the functioning of this collective intelligence on a large scale.

Two types of collaborative projects on Collectivity

If you read this blog, you are probably familiar with Collectivity, our collaborative platform. Our vision is to provide experts from around the world with the opportunity to contribute to knowledge co-production projects that will make our world better (only with global health challenges, we already have our hands full !). For the past year, Collectivity has already offered the opportunity to participate in projects, which one can call ‘slow’ projects: they require time and a long process of co-production between experts who contribute on a voluntary basis. This is the case for this or this project.

After some small tests, we decided to adapt Collectivity by integrating the concept of ‘flash consultation’ directly into the platform. A second type of project will from now on be proposed to the members of Collectivity: the ‘flash’ projects – which will require a quick and short contribution from the experts, sometimes just taking a minute or two. In both cases, when an expert contributes, his/her contribution will be recognized by the platform with a participation badge.

Answers to your questions

The service goes of course in both directions: we count on all of you to answer questions, but you can also ask your own questions. Whether you are a minister or a student, a researcher or a technical advisor, thanks to the community, you will be able to ask your questions to the global health expert community. Your questions can be very simple and even personal (e.g. I would like to do a Masters in International Health, which institution would you recommend?), but they can also be more sophisticated (e.g. We want to integrate noncommunicable diseases into our national PBF program – which indicators do you use in your country?).

We also incorporated small modular features. When the answers are (potentially) of interest to everyone and they can trigger a response from other experts (as in the examples above), your flash consultations may be ‘open’. Conversely, when discretion is required, for example when names of persons are mentioned, you will be able to set the consultation so that only you can receive the answer (e.g. Can you recommend a good hospital management consultant?).

The aim of the flash consultation is of course not to replace other methods of collecting information (search engine, systematic review…). It is a matter of complementing those methods and providing rapid answers to urgent questions.

We are at your service

As a platform, Collectivity is gaining more and more momentum. There will certainly be some small adjustments to be made to the technological solution,  new habits will need to be acquired (e.g. visit the project page from time to time), but we do not doubt that Collectivity can offer a quality contribution to knowledge management in global health.

As of today, you can give your input to the first flash consultation. Do not hesitate to answer the questions asked by Mark Malema from Malawi and Tony Zitti from Mali.

We are waiting for your questions, answers and feedback!

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