Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Global Initiatives at JHU

Johns Hopkins University recently established the Global mHealth Initiative (JHU-GmI) to provide for a university-wide community of excellence. JHU-GmI is connecting faculty, staff, and students across schools so they can collaborate in the field of mobile health according to an article appearing in the JHU December 2011 newsletter “The Globe” published by the Department of International Health.

In a project undertaken last summer, a student Nadi Nina Kaonga, JHU-GmI Intern, worked on the Ghana Telemedicine Project in the Millennium Villages Project site of Bonsaaso. She helped conduct an evaluation of the mobile phone intervention using social network analyses along with other qualitative and quantitative methods.

In Nigeria less than a third of the births are recorded and the capacity to obtain mortality and cause-of-death data is very weak. Because most births and many deaths occur at home or outside of health facilities, the majority of vital events are missed by existing civil registries and facility-based health information management systems. This can undermine efforts to make sound policies and to plan and evaluate programs.

Therefore, a two step process to identify and verify vital events has been initiated. When a child is born or a death occurs, trained community contacts will send SMS alerts to their local health authority which will trigger a home visit to be made by an outreach worker. This data is collected and sent by mobile phones to local governments, to the state level, and integrated into the existing HMIS and other vital registries.

The global mHealth initiative is exploring ways to combat chronic diseases and is focused on developing and evaluating easy-to-use personalized mHealth interventions to improve feedback loops. The researchers are now assessing the effectiveness of smartphones and text messaging platforms to help engage feedback to help prevent cancer and to help individuals manage weight. The next step is to apply technologies to help diabetics adhere to their medications.

Another JHU-GmI key project called “mCare” is an innovative community health worker scheduling and pregnancy monitoring system. This system is being used to help improve the delivery of antenatal and postpartum services in a short period of time between crisis and care in rural Bangladesh by using mobile systems

The eMOCHA project is a free open-source applications designed to assist health programs in developing countries and to help improve provider communication and education as well as patient care. This is being accomplished by using wireless devices with local server-based clinical training and patient care support services

A complete list of project and researchers affiliated with the program are available at