MobileActive08: CommCare / OpenROSA

CommCare / OpenROSA
Helping community healthcare workers in Tanzania
Gayo Mhila

Community healthcare workers: visit houses, focus on collecting health data, talking about preventative health, etc. Suffer from lack of effective tools: CommCare is a mobile support tool. OpenROSA: Consortium for mobile data collection and decision support. JavaROSA is a part thereof, a phone-based Java app (uses XForms, open standards in background). Other OpenROSA apps: EpiSurveyor, … (As a side note, there are crowds of OpenROSA people here, and everyone seems to be in on the game. Looks very effective as a collaboration).

– checklists
– simple medical protocols
– day planning
– communication

Speaker stressed, and I think this is indeed absolutely vital: it’s not creating new systems, it’s replacing existing paper-based solutions with mobile technology — thus you can actually get buy-in. Development process: Focus group -> observe workers in action -> paper prototype -> build CommCare and test.

Future plans: system with scheduling and other additional components.

Challenges: infrastructure, both network and for servicing and charging the phones; also managing airtime and workers making personal calls.

Question asked: confidentiality of HIV/AIDS, etc. sufferers. Speaker passed on what community healthcare workers said: the clinics have developed relationships with NGOs, and patients are offered the opportunity to introduce themselves to the NGOs — so it’s an opt-in service in this case.

Other discussion: education is needed for the workers, but can be done. Authoring tools for NGOs to create their own forms not yet available. Government of Tanzania interested, but it is early days yet.