Online Program

Mobile moms: Design issues in the use of cell phones to improve maternal care in timor-leste

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Mary Anne Mercer, DrPH, UW Department of Global Health, Health Alliance International, Seattle, WA
Susan Thompson, MPH, Health Alliance International, Seattle, WA
Paul Vasconcelos, BS, Health Alliance International, Dili, Timor-Leste
Elizabeth Elson, MPH, Health Alliance International, Dili, Timor-Leste
Marisa Harrison, MPH, Health Alliance International, Dili, Timor-Leste
Health Alliance International (HAI) has supported the Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste to strengthen its maternal and newborn care services since 2004. In 2011 a USAID Child Survival grant funded a pilot project to implement and assess the effectiveness of mobile phones to improve the communication between midwives and the mostly rural pregnant woman they serve. The project is known as Liga Inan (Connecting Women) in the local language, or Mobile Moms. In addition to facilitating direct communication, a web-based platform sends text messages that are specific to the gestational stage of the woman's pregnancy. The effectiveness of the strategy will be evaluated via comparisons with a neighboring district. This paper discusses critical design issues that arose as the project unfolded. They included decisions related to existing patterns of cell phone use by rural women; the configuration of routine and emergency maternal care services in the health care system; the capacity of the local telecommunications system; local capacity in software development and support; specifications required of project phones; the selection, adaptation, review and pretesting of SMS messages; a range of issues around training of midwives in using and maintaining the system; and support needed to assure program quality in this innovative project. Effective resolution of these issues will be important in the design of any effort to use cell phones to improve health communication.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe three ways that mobile phone access in rural areas can improve maternal care, and list and explain at least five critical issues that must be decided in the design of a mobile phone project.

Keyword(s): Maternal and Child Health, Telecommunications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently supporting and have helped develop an mHealth project in Timor-Leste.
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.