Mom 2 Mom Mentor Matching
Imagine if a mom to be could simply call or text to choose from a list of qualified, experienced moms in her community for a meet up in a public place (like a market). The mom mentor would share her own personal story & advise on how to have a healthy pregnancy & birth. Future communication can be arranged. And the mom to be, after her own childbirth, could pay it forward by volunteering to be a mom mentor herself. Experienced moms can apply to be mom mentors, and then activated by pre-approved local partners (like medical providers, Oxfam?). Mentors would be trained on important practices (proper nutrition, sterile umbilical cord cutting, etc.), given referral contacts for health providers (midwives, local hospital, etc.), & perhaps even provided with basic handout kits (birthing/emergency, supplements). This would increase access by virally spreading vital maternal health info, tools, & emotional support through trusted community members, independent of ability to pay or proximity to traditional hospitals.
The matching mechanism could also be used for connecting women with qualified local community health workers/midwives, emergency health transport (such as motorcycle ambulances:
http://bit.ly/i6zBdu ; or even community members with access to vehicles—such as taxi/tuktuk drivers—that have volunteered to provide emergency pregnancy transport. One could even imagine this being bundled with other mobile-based services that could improve maternal health such as interesting fetal development descriptions connected to nutrition intake reminders, fun educational quizzes—
http://bit.ly/g0WTOY , Q&A with health specialists, etc.
What is the minimum level of mobile technology needed for this concept?
The system could be run primarily on SMS and automated voice (to most broadly support phones available in the developing world), but also extended to mobile instant messaging (to further minimize costs for those whose phones support this). More complex smartphone features could provide additional functionality, but should probably only be developed when these devices become cheaper and more common in beneficiary populations. Location could be either be approximated with the location information (already triangulated from the basic cellphone network, or more accurately by GPS-enabled phones), or entered in manually by the user.
Image attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34515407@N03/3573745248/
How could this work in a low-literacy context?
The majority of the information sharing actually occurs in person between community members to overcome cultural, language, literacy, technical, and financial barriers. Only a text message or short voice call (could be 3rd party assisted and/or telecom carrier subsidized) is needed for initial matching purposes.
Which partners could help realise and deliver this solution?
Other - Feel free to elaborate in your description of the concept
Below are potential upgrades to this concept based on builds made by community members, and who I've added to the "virtual team" to receive DQ score boosts. Thanks everyone! Looking forward to any additional builds/constructive criticism:
SPREADING THE WORD: Albert's comment provides on-the-ground validation for this community-based approach to spread health awareness and knowledge. In addition, it also made me realize that pre-existing medical workers/facilities could be a key to 1) getting expectant moms enrolled in this program, reinforcing medical recommendations & increase compliance, and 2) recruiting successful mothers that medical workers have advised to pay it forward and spread their maternal experience and learnings to other moms. Mom mentors could even be a future recruiting/training pool for future midwives (as brought up by Steph). What other ideas do people have for encouraging use of this service by expectant moms and experienced mentors?
PRIVACY: Sarah raised the concern that some mothers (e.g. unwanted pregnancies) may desire to keep information about their pregnancy private from their community at large. To accommodate this and maximize choice, ultimately increasing comfort and follow-through, the system could implement safeguards such as enabling selection from a list of mentors in and nearby a mom's immediate community, moms to be must confirm a potential match before a meeting is scheduled, numbers are private by default and only revealed by user opt-in, and users can choose to be matched with someone near but outside of their immediate community.
PROTOTYPING: Diego made an excellent suggestion that this idea could be tested and refined immediately through pre-existing parenting groups (such as http://www.pampclub.org/ ), before deploying further pilots in the low-income countries.
MULTIMEDIA: Hannah brought up how photos are already being used in related applications (such as farmers peer advising through mobiles). Definitely think media sharing could do a lot for improving the experience, though we need to ensure that the service is still functionally complete and accessible for basic texting-only phones. For example, it'd be great if mom mentors & perhaps moms to be can opt-in to having a photo of themselves included in the system, if they are comfortable with that and their phones support photo taking. Then, if a matching text is sent and their phones support Picture Messaging, the parties would receive a photo of each other. Putting a name to a face could aid in meeting up, as well beginning to establish a personal connection.
ALTERNATIVE MEET-UP OPTIONS: Deana recommended that other in-person interactions like mother community meetups/talks by mom mentors would also be valuable. Agreed that this could be supported by the system as well. Maybe mom mentors could also volunteer to take turns, for say, hosting once a month meetups (ideally at the same time/day/place). Users could also be informed about the meetups when they text the matching system.
OTHER MATCHING USE CASES: I suggested above that this mechanism could be used to match moms to be be with midwives/medical workers and emergency medical transport (including volunteer community members with access to vehicles such as taxi/tuk-tuk drivers). IDEO London brainstormed further and came up with other scenarios including hospital, pharmacy, bathroom, & public transport matching.