Lately everything I find interesting has something to do with mobile platform. “mHealth” is the buzzword for it. Seems like most of new patient-oriented healthcare IT ideas have been conceived on the premise that mobile phones plays a key role in health-related data input and/or visualization. Or it could be that I’m just biased and need to look for news in other places πŸ™‚

Child Count is an mHealth platform developed by theΒ Millennium Villages Project aimed at empowering communities to improve child survival and maternal health. It facilitates the activities of field-based community health care workers in Africa.Β  Using any standard phone, these workers are able to use text messages to register patients and report their health status to a central web dashboard that provides a real-time view of the overall community health. This enables an automated system that helps reduce gaps in treatment (sms-based rapid diagnosis, follow-up reminders etc.).

ChildCount is open-source. It’s built with RapidSMS, aΒ  framework that manages data collection, complex workflows, and group coordination using basic mobile phones. This short video does a good job of explaining the overall project and technology.

Public Health interventions are often based on simple logic, but have far-reaching effects. Screening regularly for malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, etc. requires relatively simple documentation and measurements- making it perfect for sms-based communication. Even keeping a simple registry of births, deaths, immunization status enables local health teams and organizations optimize their efforts. Care delivery organizations in developed countries should also think about integrating the mobile platform into their services- its a great way to interact and keep in touch with patients. Medication adherence is a good example. NCPIE‘s 2007 report states that poor medication adherence is almost a crisis, costing $177B annually. Almost any population care management topic (outreach, screening, compliance, etc) would be a good use case.

Child Count is in good company -there are many interesting mHealth applications out there that deserve mention. The mHealth wikipedia page has a good running list of some applications. I’ll continue to post about what I discover and like.

Overview

RapidSMS is a SMS-based (text message) framework that manages data collection, complex workflows, and group coordination using basic mobile phones β€” and can present information on the internet as soon as it is received. So far RapidSMS has been customized and deployed with diverse functionality: remote health diagnostics, nutrition surveillance, supply chain tracking, registering children in public health campaigns, and community discussion.