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Using Mobile Applications for Community-based Social Support for Chronic Patients

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 18, 2010
Using Mobile Applications for Community-based Social Support for Chronic Patients data sheet 1799 Views
Mhila, Gayo, DeRenzi, Brian, Mushi, Caroline, Wakabi, Timothy, Steele, Matt, Dhadialla, Prabhjot, Roos, Drew, Sims, Clayton, Jackson, Jonathan and Lesh, Neal
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

In this paper, we present a phone-based application called CommCare which supports community health workers (CHWs) as they provide home-based care and social support to HIV+ and other chronic patients. We report on our experience developing and testing the application with five CHWs in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. We have developed a simple and easily useable system by rapidly prototyping CommCare with the community health workers, in quick iterations based on their feedback. The system guides the user through about 15 questions during each household visit. The CHWs answer the questions using the phone’s number pad, and the results are submitted over the cellular network to our server when the session is over.

We report on lessons learned from training and our initial deployment. We discuss the few hardware and software problems that arose during our initial piloting, most of which have been addressed. This use of CommCare has little effect on the time or efficiency of home visits, but results in much easier, much faster, and potentially more accurate reporting. In particular, it saves the CHWs approximately four hours per month spent on compiling reports in the paper system.

Finally, we conducted an initial qualitative assessment of the perception of the phone-based system by the clients of the CHWs who used it. We report on the findings below, which generally show a favorable impression of the system, including an appreciation that a phone can be more discreet than paper notebooks and that it can report data more quickly.