April 07, 2011
Jessica Osborn is the Business Development Manager for Grameen Foundation's MOTECH initiative.
MOTECH (Mobile Technology for Community Health) is an initiative of Grameen Foundation, Ghana Health Service and Columbia University that uses mobile phone-based technology to improve the quality of pre- and post-natal care for Ghanaian women and their families. MOTECH has developed an information service called Mobile Midwife, which delivers time-specific voice or text messages to pregnant mothers and their partners and families, both before and after birth. We have also built a simple Java-based application that enables nurses in rural Ghanaian health facilities to automate much of their record keeping and reporting, which used to take 4-6 days per month of their time. This application also makes it easier for nurses to identify patients who have missed certain care.
We recently sat down with some of the nurses who use our app. Here is what they told us.
A nurse describing how the app has helped with paperwork said, “It's been good because it helps us with our reports. Sometimes our tallying gives us incorrect data. With the phones, we know the data that we get at the end of the month is correct. We used to have to pick lots of forms in different places and take them elsewhere, but now it’s much easier.”
Our Mobile Midwife service requires "pregnant parents" to provide a due date and their location when they register for the service. The service then sends messages to parents when appointments are due – or overdue – to remind them to visit the health clinic for check-ups. One nurse told us, “With MOTECH, we can contact our clients easily because we get messages listing our defaulters. Some of them also come to access services because MOTECH sends them messages telling them to come.”
Another nurse really appreciated the reinforcement that Mobile Midwife messages provided for his own outreach efforts: “When we see our clients for a child-welfare clinic, we gather them in a big group to educate them, but we don’t have time to do that 1-on-1. Often these meetings are big and noisy so not everyone picks up what you've said. That's why MOTECH is good – it provides 1-on-1 information to them, along with personalized reminder messages.”
We really appreciate the cooperation we have received from the nurses of the Ghana Health Service in developing, testing and deploying MOTECH. The nurses provide critical healthcare services to remote communities, which is a challenging task. We’re happy to have the opportunity to make their work on behalf of Ghanaians a little easier. Of course, all this is made possible through the generous contributions of supporters like you – we couldn't create, implement and expand poverty-fighting initiatives like this without you.