The ZimPAAC consortium has supported high-quality health care worker (HCW) knowledge and skills in Zimbabwe with technologies such as applications with clinical resources for clinicians, tablet-based data collection, and self-study modules. Through the use of self-study courses, HCWs complete learning activities using case scenarios in either prevention of mother-to-child transmission client retention, HIV testing services for children and adolescents, or viral load testing. ZimPAAC also uses WhatsApp messaging groups as a training intervention during self-study for peer-to-peer learning and support. Tablet-based data collection has now become the norm for most sites.
ZimPAAC also continually works to strengthen its program monitoring systems, such as the deployment of TrainSMART as the national training database. Recently, ZimPAAC developed and introduced the ZimPAAC Data Improvement Plan (ZDIP)—a new system of electronic data collection tools that will improve reporting and give facility and district staff better access to data. The new digital forms in ZDIP offer built-in data quality checks, the ability to view graphs, and provides faster feedback to sites so they can use the data for facility-based improvements.
Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is considered safe and the vast majority of men heal without complication. However, guidelines require multiple follow-up visits, which can burden staff and facilities with clients who are typically healing well. With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ZAZIC recently conducted a prospective randomized control trial (RCT) to determine if two-way texting (2wT) was as safe as routine post-operative visits and if it reduced workload in two high-volume VMMC sites near Harare, Zimbabwe.
Both clients and providers felt satisfied with the 2wT system and felt it could be ready for scale. Many clients reported feeling confident, comfortable, satisfied, and safe with text follow-up. Importantly, clients felt that 2wT saved them time and money. Providers also noted 2wT saved them time, empowered their clients to engage in the healing process, and addressed gaps in MC service quality.
It was recommended in the study that 2wT between providers and patients should be considered for future adaptation in other short-term care contexts. 2wT also appears far less expensive than active follow-up to improve patient safety: on average, post-VMMC follow-up under 2wT was $0.098 compared to $0.955 under routine care. 2wT was both less costly and more effective in identifying AEs relative to the expected rate of AEs. As such, I-TECH aims to scale 2wT in further testing among rural clients and guardians to improve patient care at lower cost.
The trial is registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, trial NCT03119337, and activated on April 18, 2017. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03119337. This RCT was supported by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21TW010583.
Jan Flowers is a Clinical Faculty member and Research Scientist in the University of Washington School of Nursing, and is faculty co-lead of the Digital Initiatives Group at I-TECH (DIGI). Her area of focus is on innovative strategies and technologies for healthcare systems strengthening in resource constrained settings through appropriate electronic collection and use of quality health data for evidence-based decision making.
She has led informatics organizations and teams for over 20 years, focused on technology policy and law, health information systems evaluation and maturity modeling, open source communities of practice building, health technology engineering and implementation, patient centered technologies and mHealth, and standards-based interoperability for improved care at the point of service, surveillance, and program monitoring.
Ms. Flowers serves on the board of directors for both OpenMRS and OpenELIS Foundations, and the founder of the OpenHIE LIS Community of Practice, which develops and shares common standards and best practices amongst the open-source LIS community. She holds an MS in Health Law & Policy from the University of California San Francisco jointly with UC Hastings Law School, and a BS in Psychology from the University of Washington.
National strategies, policies, and governance define the implementation environment for health information systems (HIS) and are recognized as a foundational building block for health system goals, including universal health coverage and control of HIV and other infectious diseases. I-TECH is supporting Cameroon’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to develop a national eHealth strategic plan by September 2019. A goal of the project will be to develop governance structures and processes, which can continue onward beyond the strategic planning process under MOH leadership, for on-going strategic direction, coordination, and oversight of investments in the national HIS.
I-TECH has worked with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other implementing partners in Botswana to develop and implement robust national health information system that enable greater efficiency and accountability and strategic use of information. I-TECH’s work on the National Data Warehouse ensures the availability of strategic information to monitor progress toward reaching epidemic control, with particular focus on Treat All, linkages to care, and HIV clinical cascade for 90-90-90 care continuum.
The Kuunika Project: Data for Action was a four-year program implemented by a consortium of organizations, including the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), that began in 2016 to improve healthcare service delivery through the effective use of data. Consortium activities aimed to improve data systems, data use, and data governance in five districts throughout Malawi. I-TECH’s main focus was to build the capacity of healthcare workers (HCWs) to access, manage and use health data in high-burden HIV/AIDS facilities and communities.
I-TECH conducted an HCW training needs assessment with support from the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 2017. Using the assessment data, I-TECH collaborated with MOH, district health teams, local university representatives, and subject matter experts to design and develop a training curriculum that was piloted in 2018.
In January 2019, I-TECH rolled out a national training comprised of seven-day, in-person workshops and complementary eLearning modules with the goal of establishing a culture of data use, a strong base of high-quality data, and improve the availability of high-quality information to decision makers with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes. The eLearning program, Building Effective Health Information Systems, is comprised of seven modules that introduce frontline healthcare workers and managers to health information systems. The modules include:
Introduction to Health Information Systems
Health Information Systems: Data Management Concepts
Using EMR Data for Decision Making
Improving and Maintaining the Quality of EMR System Data
Logic Models and System Classification
Overview of System Architecture
Introduction to Interoperability at the Facility Level.
An average of 150 HCWs per district were trained for an overall total of more than 800 HCWs trained across the country.
In May 2019, I-TECH launched a mentorship program designed to bridge the gap between training and practice, and to help participants apply their newly gained knowledge on the job. By the end of Phase 1, the I-TECH team had oriented over 100 district mentors to the mentorship program and tools. I-TECH’s role in the consortium concluded in August 2019 when Phase 1 of the Kuunika Project ended.
Google’s Season of Docs 2019
The Digital Initiatives Group at the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), a center in the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health, is participating in the Season of Docs, Google’s annual program that fosters collaboration between open source projects and technical writers. This is the inaugural year of this program!
Season of Docs is a unique program that pairs technical writers with open source mentors to introduce the technical writer to an open source community and provide guidance while the writer works on a real-world open source project. The technical writer in turn
provides documentation expertise to the open source organization. Season of Docs is not a recruiting program nor an internship but it does provide an invaluable experience and looks great on a résumé!
DIGI implements open-source digital health solutions that help people make informed decisions to improve health outcomes in low and middle-income countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Kenya, and South Africa. We work with electronic medical records, laboratory information systems, human resources information systems, and other digital health tools. Our work contributes to sustainable health systems and improved population health. Thank you for your interest!
Download PDF of information about DIGI’s participation in Google’s Season of Docs.
Technical writers interested in Season of Docs can find the list of participating open source organizations on the Season of Docs website. The application period for technical writers is open from May 29, 2019– June 28, 2019. DIGI’s Ideas List will be available on the OpenELIS Blog during the application period.
The Fifth Annual Global Digital Health Forum was held from 10-11 December in Washington, D.C., attracting more than 300 participants to the FHI 360 Conference Center. At the forum, representatives from the new Digital Initiatives Group at I-TECH (DIGI) and its partner in Haiti, CHARESS, shared knowledge and lessons learned from 15 years of experience implementing digital health solutions worldwide.
“I welcome the messages from donors funding digital health work that they are shepherding a new era through the Digital Investment Principles,” said Joanna Diallo, DIGI Managing Director. “The conference provided DIGI an opportunity to present our contributions to global goods like OpenELIS, OpenMRS, and OpenHIE.”
Diallo moderated a panel titled “Different Labs Need Different Systems: An Exploration of Open Source Laboratory Information Systems Use in Global Health and the Community of Practice that Brings Them Together.” Jan Flowers, DIGI Faculty Co-Lead and Director of Global Health Informatics at the University of Washington Clinical Informatics Research Group, and Casey Iiams-Hauser, Senior Informatics Implementation Specialist with DIGI, were panelists, along with Steven Wanyee of IntelliSOFT, a former member of the I-TECH Kenya team.
The panel highlighted LIS as a critical component of national health information systems (HIS) architecture, exploring a complementary suite of open source LIS that are implemented across low- and middle-income countries, describing the laboratories and use cases each serves.
“The forum is a fantastic opportunity to meet with funders, on-the-ground implementers and technologists to discuss our work and learn about new initiatives and technologies,” said Iiams-Hauser. “We can leverage this knowledge for success both in our existing health information projects and in future partnerships.”
CHARESS HIS Lead Nathaelf Hyppolite participated in a session highlighting the development, implementation, and transition of EMR in developing countries, drawing on I-TECH and CHARESS’s work in Haiti. Participants heard about the benefits of an interoperable EMR: a unified data format, the ability to back up data, and that same data can be used to generate reports via DHIS2 from both the cloud servers and hardware EMR system. Hyppolite also shared the advantages and limitations of transitioning to an OpenMRS and OpenHIE platform, which bring experts together to share knowledge, standards, and best practices, as well as collaborate on technologies.
This focus on community and communication was noted by Diallo and the other participants. “DIGI really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about new standards and technologies, how to best approach digital health governance work, and how a shared language will help us collaborate and work together to ultimately improve health outcomes,” said Diallo.
Samantha Dolan, a Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor with the Kenya team at the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), has received the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations award. Along with I-TECH Kenya’s Ian Njeru and I-TECH PI Peter Rabinowitz, professor in the Department of Global Health, Dolan has been awarded $100,000 to conduct a project over the next 18 months to improve digital data collection and monitoring of childhood immunizations at Kenyan health facilities.
Read more about Dolan and her project on the UW Department of Global Health website–and congratulations from the I-TECH family!
I-TECH India PL has provided national, state, and facility level technical assistance for improving quality, analysis and presentation of ART program data; developed innovative tools for tracking program progress based on data analysis of selected indicators over a period of time and submitted for national scale-up; and provided technical mentoring to improve quality of data collection and reporting by the ART Centers at 48 sites of India in the last three years.