The Use of Mobile Phone as a Tool for Capturing Patient Data in Southern Rural Tamil Nadu, India

Ganesan MUTHIAH, Suma PRASHANT, Vincy PUSHPA MARY, Janakiraman NATARAJAN, Ashok JHUNJHUNWALA, Nuwan WAIDYANATHA

Abstract


The present pilot study was conducted to investigate the effectiveness and efficiency gains in collect outpatient health information from primary health centres and health sub centres through mobile applications for detecting disease outbreaks in near-real-time. The researchers were also interested in evaluating the difficulties in implementing mobile health technology with health workers of lesser technical experience in electronically submitting patient data. “Evaluating a Real Time Biosurveillance Program: A pilot project” was conducted in Thiruppathur block of Sivaganga district in southern rural Tamil Nadu in India from July 2008 to July 2010. During the first year, the researchers and technicians interacted with the health workers to develop the technology. Thereafter, digital data submission using the mHealthSurvey, from the 28 rural health care centres, began in June 2009. The digitized data was analysed for unusual patterns using the TCWI (T-Cube Web Interface). Adverse events detected through TCWI were disseminated via SMS, Email, and Web with the Sahana Alerting Broker web-based software. Averages of 217 health records were collected each day for detection of adverse epidemiological events. A major advantage of the mobile phone patient data collection method was the improved timeliness for real-time detection of any disease outbreak. Besides the delays of digitizing data because of the parallel routine labor intensive paper work, the health workers in Tamil Nadu were able to submit reliable patient health data using mobile phone, which makes it a friendly, efficient, and cost effective tool of data collection.

Keywords


mobile phones; mHealth; electronic health records; public health; early warnings; India

Full Text: Full Text