SMS Integrated Survey Tool for Health Education in Uganda – with the Infectious Disease Institute

For those of you who are interested in the work we are doing that is bringing us to Geneva, here is a summary.  Please, feel free to comment and ask questions.  The more we discuss this idea, the more we will be ready to present it in two weeks!

Open Innovation Competition of the ITU Telecom World Conference Summary:

The Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) is a Not for Profit organization dedicated to building capacity of health systems in Africa for the delivery of sustainable, high quality care and prevention of HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases through training, research and advanced clinical services.  The proposed SMS Integrated Survey Tool for Health Education (hereinafter Integrated Survey) is a project focused on local capacity building and training of trainer programs to enhance IDI by growing ICT and assessment capabilities within the institution, with partner institutions, and of individual health practitioners.  The Integrated Survey works as an automated SMS system for impact evaluation and continuing education, sending survey questions regarding follow up to health worker participants who have attended IDI trainings to ensure implementation and results of projects designed at trainings.

While internet penetration is low (only 9% of Ugandans are internet users according to the World Bank Development Indicators), 28% of Ugandans have their own phone, as described in the same study, and the former Information and Communications Technology Minister recently put the number at 42% of Ugandans own a mobile phone. The widespread use of mobile phones in Uganda presents a unique opportunity of IDI to expand its reach through SMS. The problem that the Integrated Survey addresses is the relative cost of in person evaluative visits following training, difficulty to disburse new information and the lack of access to internet of health practitioners across Uganda and particularly in rural areas. The solution put forward by the integrated tool is to combine SMS surveys with phone calls and direct trainer visits to health workers to increase the impact of training and use of training materials of participants concerning the care, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. IDI currently utilizes the AIDS Treatment Information Center (ATIC) to provide outreach to health practitioners and trainees through a call center and SMS reminder texts through D-Mark mobile software.  The Integrated Survey can potentially extend and expand IDI’s current call center and in-person evaluation by using surveys via SMS to IDI trainees to review materials covered in training and evaluate training impact.

The proposed SMS survey has two features, one of traditional SMS reminder outreach and another of survey questions that can be responded to one by one. The survey requires server space, SMS costs for health workers and pre and post intervention field visits for training staff of two courses, such as Pediatric Anti Retro-viral Therapy Management and Lab Management, of 20 trainees each.  Each course will have a unique SMS survey.  There will be a control group of 2 courses with 20 trainees each which will not receive any SMS texts representing the same two training courses as those in the Integrated Survey pilot group.  Each trainee in the pilot group will be sent a total of 20 SMS text messages as a follow up survey to the materials covered in their training and weekly messages with reminders about clinical practice discussed at training.

Conclusion:

IDI, with the proposed Integrated Survey, will further engage health practitioners in training evaluation and assessment utilizing SMS text surveys, call center support and in-person field visits.  IDI’s goal to build capacity for the delivery of sustainable, high quality care and prevention of HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases through training, research and advanced clinical services is furthered by the Integrated Survey by promoting care, education, and research.  The collection of data about clinicians, clinics, and practitioners who participate in the Integrated Survey will address strengths and weaknesses in infectious disease care and prevention for future integrated trainings.  The Integrated Survey also encourages more frequent follow up and communication between subject matter experts and practitioners in the field of infectious disease prevention and care.

About the CoApplicants:

Raymond Besiga is an ICT for Development enthusiast with 3 years’ experience in development and deployment of remote engineering laboratories. He has a diverse array of skills in open source software such as RapidSMS, Frontline SMS, Ushahidi and Swift River among others. He is a web developer seeking to promote collaboration in the developing world through ICT.

Ally Krupar has 3 years of experience working in Distance Learning from American University and 5 years of project management experience. She is proficient in HTML, FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi, GoogleEarth and database software. Her technical skills, management and distance learning experience provide the requisite capabilities to deliver the Integrated Survey Tool to IDI.

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2 thoughts on “SMS Integrated Survey Tool for Health Education in Uganda – with the Infectious Disease Institute

  1. This is some fascinating stuff. First of all,you are going to undermine the extent of this good project when you use World Bank statistics. As of June 20th,it was reported that Uganda has about 14million mobile phone users which is roughly 44% of the population. I am very sure the number of internet users is also higher than the projected 9%.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Do you have a source for that June 20th data? Would love to use more accurate numbers but right now, the World Bank figures were the most recent I could find.

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