Health workers, who should aptly be called health heroes, are saviors for many pregnant women in areas with very limited access to proper health care. They are responsible for ensuring that women are immunized and undergo all diagnostic tests to monitor general health and flag high risk cases in a timely manner, saving both mother and the baby from preventable illness. Extremely limited resource settings further complicate these responsibilities. Each patient requires a large volume of paperwork for enrollment and follow-up, which can be highly time consuming and difficult to organize. This prevents pregnant women from receiving antenatal care at the right time. At the district level, where the central health team operates, significant time is invested in analyzing paper based records and following up with patients. Overall, this paper-based system negatively affects efficiency and quality of care.
Evaluation of available resources and feedback from health workers has sparked ideas for a potential solution to these problems. Taking advantage of the mobile revolution and internet connectivity reaching to the most remote areas, we have directed designing our solutions using digital data collection and storage.
We have prototyped a two-piece system: a culturally accepted wearable device and a mobile software. At the point of enrollment, a health worker would be able to digitally register and issue a bangle to each patient. Each bangle is embedded with a QR code to uniquely identify each patient and provide a physically link to her medical records. Beyond enrollment, the app consolidates a patient’s complete diagnostic history and improves follow-up of antenatal visits through timely reminders. The reason for adding QR code stems from portability with any existing smart phone so as to make it affordable and replicable in low resource settings.
A patient’s bangle is scanned with the health worker’s mobile device at the beginning of each visit to quickly access her personal information and complete history of records. As the health worker performs assessments, they may then enter new data into the mobile directly. At the end of the visit, the bangle is scanned again to update the stored data. All updated information is stored locally on the mobile until the health worker reaches an area of internet connectivity where it is pushed to a cloud-based server. The health data entered in the app could be accessed by the central health team who could then monitor the patients remotely.
This system would streamline the processes for enrolling new patients, monitoring data for making quick diagnoses, and reminding health workers of upcoming antenatal visits. These improvements ensure that no women in a remote location is left behind in undergoing all required diagnostics and immunizations throughout the course of her pregnancy. We believe that our solution will revolutionize the healthcare provided to women in rural communities, but more than that, equip our health heroes with an effective tool. It is high time we invest in ensuring that these health heroes get the best possible innovative tools for saving lives!