Planning Overview

This phase describes the early pre-implementation stage of a digital health solution (DHS) where the technology is conceptualized and designed. Actions at this phase include determining service type and target users; identifying stakeholders and rights holders who will be involved; establishing regulatory and resource requirements; amongst others. The aim of activities in this phase is to establish a solid foundation for engagement, implementation, impact and long-term sustainability. A clear plan for data collection, monitoring and tracking of key metrics of interest should be established in the planning phase. An evaluation conducted in the Planning phase generally seeks to answer these kinds of questions:

  • What are we doing? Why are we doing it?
  • What considerations and strategies will ensure the maximum positive impact for the greatest population group?

Planning Matrices


This involves stakeholders at the federal, provincial and territorial levels of governance and includes governmental funding agencies and pan-Canadian health organizations. At this level, policies and regulations are set that influence the meso and micro levels.


This includes regional or subregional health authorities and organizations, as well as primary care networks. At this level, direct
investments and decisions are made to deliver healthcare services to entities within specific service areas. Decisions at this level
may ultimately influence the micro level.


At the micro or institutional-level, hospitals, clinics, and community care centres are the main spheres of influence. At this level, the health impacts of digital health investments are directly experienced by providers and beneficiaries of service delivery and are influenced by institutional policies and administrative procedures.

Click on each heading below to learn more about how each construct in the planning matrix functions at the macro, meso, and micro levels:

  • Equity

    Health equity implies that everyone has a fair opportunity to attain long and healthy lives and that no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential irrespective of their social, economic, geographic, demographic, racial or ethnic grouping.

    Digital Health Equity is achieved when all people have equal opportunity to access, use and benefit from digital health tools and services to attain long and healthy lives.

  • Stakeholder engagement

    This involves identification and meaningful partnership with any individuals, groups or institutions that can influence or be impacted by the digital health solution at any timepoint, including the target populations (care providers, patients, families), in order to facilitate uptake and acceptance.

    The involvement or exclusion of certain groups at the planning impacts implementation success, uptake and long-term sustainability. Some people may fill multiple roles in their capacity as stakeholders.

    Engagement as a means not an end, recognizing engagement as a continuum. The goal is to ensure that the right and necessary people are involved early on in the process and their input/influence is recognized

  • Value proposition

    This refers to promises that the vendor or proponent makes regarding the benefits to be derived from a digital health solution and its differentiation from other solutions in the market. It includes short or long-term value that match a future state that purchasers, users and beneficiaries of the solution prioritize or aspire to attain. Value proposition also addresses issues of sustainability with respect to the technology supply model (how the technology was procured), the client-supplier relationship, and the level of potential substitutability.

  • Appropriateness

    This is related to the fit, relevance, and compatibility of the digital health solution for a given setting, provider or patient, to address a specific health condition. Digital health solutions should be clinically relevant and tailored to align with the comfort, needs and preferences of target end user and beneficiaries.

    It includes ensuring an optimum fit between the solution, policy priorities for health and health system resources to drive population-level outcomes.

  • Feasibility

    This is the ability of the digital health solution to work as intended and the extent to which it can be used successfully in each setting.

  • Costs

    The financial, infrastructural and operational needs to facilitate digital health implementation. It encompasses the direct and indirect financial resources required to develop, implement and sustain the digital health solution, and the implications of these for overall system performance.

  • Data privacy and security

    This includes the National, regional, and territorial standards for data sharing and management (e.g., PHIPA, PIPEDA, OCAP), including data governance agreements between institutions and provinces/territories. Security covers the ability to protect the integrity and use of the data captured, and to ensure only authorized access to the digital health solution. For instance, privacy impact assessments (PIAs) on a proposed digital solution can identify any real or potential impacts on an individual’s privacy.

  • Interoperability and portability

    Interoperability can be defined as the ability of digital health solutions to “talk to each other” (i.e., information access, exchange and use) and work with other technologies within the system in a seamless and coordinated manner. Depending on the complexity and use case of a digital solution, interoperability may be foundational, structural, semantic or organisational.

  • Contextual factors

    This encompasses the wider institutional, sociocultural and economic environment of digital health implementation at the macro, meso, and micro levels that can act to enable or constrain implementation.

  • Regulatory compliance

    This is the adherence and compliance to benchmarks, regulations, or policy as it relates to digital health technologies and the data collected from its use. It is accompanied by evidence of endorsement, certification, accreditation, or recommendation by relevant regulatory bodies.