Blog 2 (Fall 2016) – mHealth, by Roxana Rosala

My topic this week is mHealth, also called “Mobile Health”.

First, I’d like to discuss why mHealth is important for the world. The main idea is, that it provides individuals who live in remote locations with the opportunity to participate in health care. That means that people who otherwise would have no access to health care, can actively be a part of the health matrix, which includes doctor visits, health organizations, and so on. This is helpful and necessary, because middle-income, and especially low-income countries face many constraints in their healthcare systems. The reason that mHealth is so successful is due to the high smartphone penetration. MHealth has rapidly become the most efficient way to connect people with their local healthcare systems.

There are two companies that I have found, who do great work in mHealth, and even worked together in order to develop a feature that is helping millions of people worldwide.

The first company I’d like to talk about is called “Dimagi”. They are a software social enterprise that develops technologies to improve service delivery in underserved communities. It was founded in 2002 with its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They are only a 100-member team, however they also have offices in New Delhi, Cape Town, and Dakar, with additional staff around the world. Currently, they are active in over 50 countries, while their platform and services have already supported over 500 projects worldwide.

The second company I did some research on, is the “CORE Group”. They are a Health Organization, founded in 1977. Their Vision is ”Communities where everyone can attain health and well-being.” and their Mission Statement says that their goal is to “Improve and expand community health practices for underserved populations, especially women and children, through collaborative action and learning.” You can see the common thread of the two companies naming “underserved communities” as one of their main targets. When the CORE Group first started doing their work in 1977, they mainly focused on helping children.  Today, they specifically address three goals: Reducing child mortality, Improving maternal health, and Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

Dimagi and the CORE Group and worked together and created COMMcare. It was developed in 2007 and it’s basically free. It has some really great features, such as an easy-to-use app building platform that is free and open source. Open source means that you can download content helpful to you and your content. At the same time, it works offline, which profits people who don’t have a stable internet connection. It works on a cloud server, which automatically saves your work. Real-time collection of data makes it very reliable, and the fact that it features a lot of multimedia makes it very convenient and easy to use for low-literacy users. It works in three different sectors: Health, Agriculture, and Development. I focused on the Health section of the program since my focus during this research was on mHealth. The basic idea of the program is, that it enables individuals to build their own mobile apps OR hire Dimagi’s field implementation team for help.

To understand and be able explain the process a little better, I thought I’d go on COMMcare’s website and find out about how it all works. I found that one topic that COMMcare focuses on, is nutrition. The program works on three levels: for organizations, for the healthcare worker, and for the beneficiaries. For the organizations, the program provides more accurate and complete data collection on malnutrition prevalence and treatment, which in turn they can use to  inform resource allocation and make other programmatic decisions. Another benefit is the real time data collection and individual record shaping, which naturally happens, when the program is used regularly. Benefits for the health workers include storing their patient’s data on a cloud-based server, with easy to follow instructions, even if literacy levels aren’t very high. The data is being input as workers visit the beneficiaries, ensuring data completeness and protocol adherence at point of entry. Finally, the program helps beneficiaries to be easily tracked across multiple visits. The program also sends multimedia-enabled behavior change messaging, that engages beneficiaries about positive health practices and notifies them of the availability of local nutritional programs. For an opportunity to see the program in action, check out the Millennium Villages Project, one of the many projects that COMMcare supports, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ-zbwsaagI

 

My sources:

“About Dimagi.”  Dimagi . N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

“Impact.”  CommCare HQ . Commcare, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

“Who we are.”  CORE group . N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

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