Wednesday, June 20, 2012

mHealth Helps in Kenya

The mHealth Project is a joint effort through Global HEED, SANA at MIT, and Partners for Care in the Marurui slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The area consists of 800 households with mostly female heads of households. Most of the residents are unemployed with homes having no electricity or running water. The slum is also filled mostly with children whose relative have passed away due to AIDS.

The most prevalent diseases displayed in the slum are upper respiratory due to cooking in the small homes with no ventilation, HIV/AIDS, water-borne illnesses, TB, chronic diseases along with very high rates of hypertension and diabetes.

In general, there is an extremely low ratio of physicians-per-person in Kenya. In the specific case of the Marurui slum, most options for healthcare being provided to this population are through government clinics forcing the people living in the slum to take public transportation to the clinic resulting in patients waiting in line for hours.  

Partners for Care have built the only clinic in the nearby vicinity where a physician is only available during limited office hours. Therefore, the mHealth solution is really needed in this community.

The mHealth program enables a patient to call the Android mobile device of a non-medical clinic staff person. This staff member then visits the home at the request of the patient and brings the necessary equipment to enter all of the necessary information into a medical record template created within the nHealth SANA mobile phone application.

In the situation where there is a patient with an infection, the staff person then takes a photo. The file is then uploaded into the server from the field. The clinic doctor looks at their laptop, opens and then reviews the case.

At this point, the doctor can advise the patient to come to the clinic, or refer the patient to seek medical help at the closest referral hospital, inform the patient to get medications at the Partners for Care clinic, or give the patient information that is a non-medical intervention that will alleviate the patient’s complaint.