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Decentralized mobile health care system

Building on top of many of the inspirations posted so far, this decentralized health care system could use a large range of “mobile” technologies, while proving culturally adaptable.

Photo of Sarah Fathallah
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1. In the cities
Doctors monitor remotely information collected and sent by health care workers from the various health centers (cf. 2). Doctors deliver diagnostic and treatment directives for HCW, contributing to their training.

2. In surrounding villages
Rural micro health centers (that could be permanent or temporary hospitals) enable HCW, nurses and midwives to collect medical data from surrounding rural areas and communicate it to doctors.
These health centers have a drug distribution license and are fully equipped with medical supplies, as well as a number of “medical motorcycles”, equipped with more affordable and mobile medical supplies (mobile echography, ultrasound tests, auto-analyzers, strip tests, or maybe even automatic prescription through a web based electronic health record combined with a computer based decision support system, etc.), along with mobile ambulances, for emergency medical supplies (anti-shock garments, infant incubator, etc.)
All of these mobile units (motorcycles + ambulances) are connected via mobile technology for coordination and mapping (e.g. including a mobile tracking technology). Health centers also make sure to send the right amount of medical products and supplies in each village when needed.

3. In remote rural areas
Local mothers are employed to complement the work of HCW. They are equipped with mobile technology, to help collect data from pregnant mothers, and send it to the nearest health center.
Midwives and moms dispose of essential medical supplies (birth kits, first aid, etc.), but can also use mobile phones to ask for help from professional HCW in case of unknown symptoms (helpline), or call for emergency in case of a problem (for the nearest mobile ambulance to come).
They also help raise education and awareness amongst their communities, based on their own experience, complemented with education tools received from health centers.

Where does mobile technology come into play?
- Diagnostic and treatment support
- Remote monitoring and data collection
- Education and awareness
- Helpline and emergency mapping

Eventually, this solution would help transfer knowledge and safe practices within communities, and could prove not only culturally acceptable, but also economically favorable (by employing local moms and community HCW and using local materials for affordable medical tools).

How could this work in a low-literacy context?

This system takes into account the literacy barriers related to the use of mobile phones by all mothers. Employing mentor mothers, or local HCWs, like the "village phone lady" model, can help overcome these barriers.

Which partners could help realise and deliver this solution?

  • Oxfam
  • Nokia
  • Mobile operators
  • NGOs
  • Government


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Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Thanks Brian for your comment! I am not sure I understood the question well, I am guessing you're talking about a very specific point, which is data entry of medical information. The idea is that the local health worker inputs directly to the mobile (not transferred from paper). Once the data is entered, I am imagining a tracking/data collecting system where the information is consolidated while also maintaining privacy (still some issues around the feasibility of this). This data collection could help reduce errors in transmission of information by cross-referencing and double-checking the input with the history already available.

I am not sure I responded to your interrogations, but I do agree with what I think is your main point: the best systems will leverage data entry to improve the entire operation.

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