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m-Health can strip 10kgs off the Village Health Nurses

vhn-bag-n-phoneThe village Health Nurse (VHN) is a rural last mile primary health care worker – duties ranging from holding medical camps in schools to running a Health Service Center (HSC) in the village providing primary health care to walking door-to-door providing antenatal and post natal care. These mobile services require proper documentation; the paper work is later converted to statistics that is reviewed by the district and state Health Officials. An idea Sir Gee is to replace the 2 heavy bags with a 100gram mobile phone with built in applets to capture the same data.

The Real Time Biosurveillance Program, an m-Health pilot carried out by Indian Institute of Technology Madras’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator in the Thirupathur block, to begin with, will be field testing the mobile concept of capturing the necessary and sufficient morbidity data for aggregate reports and disease surveillance. Lessons from this pilot will provide enough insight to develop the remaining applets to replace the heavy bags. The same pilot is simultaneously being conducted in the district of Kurunegala in Sri Lanka too.

The first cut of the J2ME applet: m-Health Survey developed by IITM was field tested in Thirupathur for the first time last week with a few VHNs and Doctors. They were thrilled to be able to capture data through the mobile phone. A VHN already familiar with exchanging SMS was quick in entering and submitting data. One of the less mobile phone literate VHN required her son’s assistance. The young Medical Officer (Doctor) was the fastest in entering data using both thumbs and the hand held device held in both hands. However, the Medical Officer was not thrilled with having to enter data and examine patient’s at the same time and would prefer the quick and easy scribble on the a paper “chit”. The Staff Officer will digitize the case information extracted from the chits.

Most patients visit the Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities closest to their village or hamlet. These facilities are equipped with ECG, a delivery room, immunization facility, and a pharmacy. On the average 200 patients visit a PHC a day. Medical Officers at the PHC maintain a outpatient registry with information pertaining to an annually renewed case id assigned to the patient along with their name, age, sex, and diagnosis. Since the PHC is already equipped with a PC and Internet they can be easily be powered with a browser based web app to digitize the health data and reducing the workload off the Special Health Nurse (SHN) who’s time is taken up by consolidating 16 to 20 types of monthly reports collected from 4 – 10 VHNs.

The research will gather evidence on the possibility of accurately and speedily detecting health threats opposed to heuristic snail processes. A recent incident involves people from all areas of Tamil Nadu gathering for an annual Kovil festivity and being infected with cholera and taking it back to their villages. The system will provide tools to detect scattered increaseing of such cases of similar symptoms.

1 Comment to m-Health can strip 10kgs off the Village Health Nurses

  1. August 17, 2009 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Very interesting. I think its neat that people in other countries do have the opportunities to get the medicines they need. 200 a day is an amazing number.

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