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  • Using digital assistants to meet rural healthcare needs

    The Andhra Pradesh government and a local software solutions company have designed a package that will use mobile computing devices to help meet the healthcare needs of rural people

    The Andhra Pradesh government and the software solutions provider CMC Ltd have designed a novel healthcare project to tackle issues relating to rural health in the state and eventually,the country. The project is part of the India Health Care initiative and is being funded by the World Bank.

    As part of the project, auxiliary nurses and midwives (ANMs) working in primary health centres (PHCs) in the remotest villages will visit rural households equipped with personal digital assistants (PDAs).

    Important healthcare information on pregnant women in the villages, infants and children, eligible couples, incidence of diseases and the relevant treatments, planning preventive and remedial measures, etc will be keyed into these digital assistants.

    After the ANMs return to the primary health centre this information will be fed into the desktop computers and then transferred to the district-level and state health commissioner's office using the available network.

    There, data compilation and report generation can be done in a couple of minutes, enabling the authorities to mobilise the personnel and materials required to attend to the needs of specific villages needs within hours.

    The commissioner of family welfare, Neelam Sawhney, said: "The data collected by the ANMs was downloaded onto the desktops, rectified and updated."

    "Changes were notified to the revenue authorities. Accordingly, services were extended to pregnant women, new-borns and eligible couples and the data was again captured on PDAs and transferred onto the desktops in PHCs once a month," she said.

    The project has already been implemented in two divisions of Nalgonda district, covering a rural population of over 1.5 million spread over 33 PHCs, where 225 ANMs have been taught how to use these gadgets.

    The Andhra Pradesh health minister Dr Kodela Siva Prasada Rao, said, "The presence of an ANM at the doorsteps of people in our villages with a mobile computing device is now enhancing the quality of healthcare for rural masses apart from improving the productivity of the health service providers."

    Source: The Hindu Business Line

    April 16, 2003

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