250188 Mobile-izing Health Workers with Information On-the-Go

Monday, October 31, 2011

Divya Ramachandran, PhD , Digital Commons, Hesperian, Berkeley, CA
Background: The burgeoning field of mobile health has proven successful for data collection and centralizing health information, records, and trends. However, little has been done to use mobile tools to improve CHWs' access to vital health information. There is huge promise for mHealth to connect people to content, and integrate with existing health systems. As a developer and distributor of accessible, trusted health materials (in 88 languages; used in 90% of the world's countries), Hesperian is in a unique position to research how health content can best be delivered over mobile devices to CHWs.

Objective: To effectively support Community Health Workers globally using appropriate mobile health content.

Methods: Between February 2010 and April 2011, Hesperian piloted several projects to research how to develop and repackage health content for mobile delivery. Hesperian partnered with software developers, and field-tested with CHWs in Tanzania and India. Health content with variations of length of unit of information, text, image, and audio was presented to CHWs and tested for effectiveness for: increasing learning; appropriately giving referrals and encouraging seeking of additional care; increasing the CHWs credibility and comfort with communicating information to clients.

We compared different modules, observed sessions of CHWs using phones, and measured CHW knowledge about topics before and after use.

Results: Preliminary results include: images and audio appear to be essential for mobile health content for low literacy CHWs; images better reinforce content, compared to text alone; question-and-answer based messages encourage CHWs to talk more with clients and are more effective at engaging clients.

Conclusions/Implications: The results of our findings are informative for all organizations working in mHealth, and shed light on how to create a more comprehensive communication system and take advantage of mobile health content delivery.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the role of mhealth in bringing vetted health materials to low-literacy and non-clinical settings. 2. Compare strategies for presenting health information to be shared on mobile devices in order to maximize their utility in low-literacy and non-clinical settings. 3. Describe a participatory design process, incorporating CHW feedback, for the development of effective mhealth tools. 4. Identify areas for further research in the use of mhealth to support CHWs in low-literacy and non-clinical settings.

Keywords: Community Health Promoters, Information Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved in the planning and review of this project
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.