How Mobile Health is improving the health of mother and child in rural India

Technology in the healthcare sector can be a boon in more ways than one. More recently, in the Field Practice Area (FPA) of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal the health facilities for mother and child are witnessing a welcome change. This is even more personal considering the 5 years I spent at Manipal while pursuing my degree in Dental Surgery…

Spread over 11 villages in the Udupi taluk, the FPA covers over 56,000 people and a network of seven rural maternity and child welfare homes (RMCW Homes) across various villages extend services to women, children and the elderly. Apart from an OPD, each center is equipped with a labour room, a postnatal ward, a lab and a small OT. The two Auxilliary Nurse Midwives (ANMS) manage duties both at the centre as well as domiciliary care.

The ANM in charge of domiciliary care visits about 20 homes per day collecting and updating data on the health of each family, specifically the mother and child. A rather tedious process for a number of reasons. Not only is the physical maintenance of the folders a difficult task, there is also the time factor and the risk of duplication of work in routine data entry. Also since the FPA is spread across villages, the quantity of patient clinical history to be maintained is large and cumbersome.

In an increasingly digital world, having to continue with faulty age old systems seems unfair and hence, the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore has come up with an app called Sanjivini to enter and maintain clinical data of patients with absolute ease.

For those well versed with the Ramayana, Sanjivini was the herb that was delivered  by Lord Hanuman to the physician of the monkey army led by Lord Rama. The herb was used to revive Lakshman , which eventually led to the final nail in the coffin for the demon king Ravana. Sanjivini is doing a similar work for the women and infants in Udupi, helping banish disease and restore the health of the region.

Developed with inputs from the ANMs, the app not only saves time, energy and resources but is also efficient in the maintaining and searching of clinical records. The Dynamic Query Tool is used by doctors, interns and NGOs to extract information from the database and can be used very effectively to gain information for family planning programs, mother and child healthcare facilities, trends in diseases and for the government to implement healthcare schemes at the grassroots level. However, the web app can be used only in the RMCW Homes and hence in order to facilitate the work of ANMs on the field, The Philips Innovation Campus has also launched an Android based mobile app.

Called Mobility Sanjivini, this solution enables ANMs to enter data using an Android smart phone for each family in separate folders. They connect it to the Sanjivini web server via USB and synchronise the mobile database with the server. The user-friendly app can collect, store and transmit data using the internet via GPRS, SMS or through a USB, bringing lengthy paperwork to a complete zero.

The app has made assigning of family folder numbers and sorting of information based on these folders faster and easier. It is the ideal lightweight, paperless solution for the job at hand. The proof of which lies in the field study that covered 50,000 people across six centers collecting nearly 250 records. The app led to significant reduction in the time taken to enter the data across various parameters, providing further impetus to this novel idea.

The only drawback seems to be the lack of internet connectivity. However the Mobility Framework too seems to have sorted this out as it can work with or without the internet.

So do you think this practice be made popular for rural healthcare workers across the country? How much do you think they will benefit from it?





Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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  1. Hannah

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