10 best tools to boost mHealth initiatives in Africa [Part 1/2]

 

Basically any mHealth product/service is based on a mobile technology.

For emerging area like Africa the technology used should be adapted to what is available there. And it’s often synonymous with simple technology.

All around the world, initiated by non-for profit or private entities, simple and basic mobile platform/software were designed to be used in hostile environments. Those tools are often really easy to implement, upgrade or customize in order to fit with healthcare requirements.

If you plan to develop a mHealth product/service you should attentively consider to integrate one of these 10 tools.

Just after discovering them, feel free to add any other tools you know in the comments, and read here the second part of the list!

 

1. EpiSurveyor

 

Created by DataDyne in 2009, EpiSurveyor is a hands-on software really simple to collect data on any kind mobile phones.

EpiSurveyor lets anyone create an account, design forms, download them to phones, and start collecting data in minutes.

More than 9000 users have relied on it to upload more than 10 million data since the inception of this platform.

 

Pricing : Free & Premium versions

Applications : Follow-up of treated patient, health education (Quizz), Epidemics surveillance.

Users :USAID, UNICEF, World Bank

Weblinks : EpiSurveyor.org, @datadyne

 

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2. Ushahidi

 

Ushahidi is a non-profit software company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

The organization uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as ‘activist mapping’ using multiple channels, including SMS, email, Twitter and the web.

On the field Ushahidi’s products enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events.

Ushahidi (which means “testimony” in Swahili) created a website in the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election that collected eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a Google map

 

Pricing : Free

Applications : Health facilities localisation, Epidemic mapping, …

Users : Schwab Foundation, UN Haiti, Washington Post, …

Weblinks : Ushahidi.com, @Ushahidi

 

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3. FrontlineSMS

 

FrontlineSMS is a free open source software used by a variety of organizations to distribute and collect information via text messages (SMS).

FrontlineSMS enables users to connect a range of mobile devices to a computer to send and receive SMS text messages. The software works without an internet connection by connecting a device such as a cell phone. If internet access is available, FrontlineSMS can be connected to online SMS services and set up to feed incoming messages to other web or e-mail services.

The award-winning free, open source software was declined for special use in health : MedicMobile. When FrontlineSMS:Medic was first introduced in one area of Malawi, the local hospital doubled the number of tuberculosis patients treated over six months, while saving 2,100 hours in travel and work time and $3,500 in costs. The tool is now being used in 11 countries, mostly in sub Saharan Africa.

 

Pricing : Free

Applications : Health workers Networking, Health-related mLearning, …

Users : Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH), Plan International,…

Weblinks : FrontlineSMS.com, @Medic

 

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4. Open MRS

 

OpenMRS is a collaborative open-source software to support the delivery of health care in developing countries. It grew out of the critical need to scale up the treatment of HIV in Africa but from the start was conceived as a general purpose electronic medical record system that could support the full range of medical treatments.

OpenMRS is founded on the principles of openness and sharing of ideas, software and strategies for deployment and use. The system is designed to be usable in very resource poor environments and can be modified with the addition of new data items, forms and reports without programming. It is intended as a platform that many organizations can adopt and modify avoiding the need to develop a system from scratch.

More than 124 research and clinical centers are involved in the Open MRS project all around the world.

 

Pricing : Free (Open Source)

Applications : Electronic Medical Record, Health demographics, Cohort management,

Users : Google, Rockfeller Foundation, …

Weblinks : OpenMRS.org , @OpenMRS

 

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5. Rapid SMS

 

RapidSMS is a SMS-based framework that manages data collection, complex workflows, and group coordination using basic mobile phones — and can present information on the internet as soon as it is received. So far RapidSMS has been customized and deployed with diverse functionality: remote health diagnostics, nutrition surveillance, supply chain tracking, registering children in public health campaigns, and community discussion.

Rapid SMS initial development was funded by UNICEF and designed to be customized for the challenges of governments, multilateral, international- and non-government organizations in difficult environment..

Famous projects like Millennium Villages or Child Count are based on the mHealth Rapid SMS platform’s « RapidResponse ».

 

Pricing : Free

Applications : Health worker communication, Automated treatment alerts, Nutritional surveillance,…

Users : ChildCount, Unicef, governments,…

Weblink : RapidSMS.org

 

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Discover the 5 other useful tools in part 2 !  >>