Harnessing innovation to deliver reproductive healthcare
Can innovations in mobile technology help us improve reproductive healthcare and reach more women with services? Three years ago, MSI set out to find out. MATE (Mobile Applications for Tracking and Engagement) was a project to learn, test and innovate with the use of mobile technology across MSI.
MSI developed two mobile apps: Client.Collect and Community.Connect. Each app can be customized for the country program with options to add or subtract features and change language. We’ve tested these apps in countries around the world, and we’re starting to see how they can be used to improve clinical quality for the women we serve.
Client.Collect: Helping healthcare providers go where others don’t
Imagine you’re a healthcare provider trekking long distances through the mountains of Nepal or driving to the farthest corners of Madagascar’s natural parks. Working alone in remote areas, you might not have access to a computer, and you certainly don’t want to add a heavy logbook to your gear, but you need an easy way to collect and store client data that’s as secure as it is convenient.
That was the challenge facing many of our MSI Ladies and outreach providers. Our solution was Client.Collect: A mobile app that enables providers to capture essential client and services data in real time. The app is designed to prevent errors in data entry, saving providers time spent correcting mistakes.
So far, the app has 860 users across 14 countries and has consistently been found to improve data quality and security. Early reports suggest that the app can also help improve clinical quality. Feedback from one country showed that it helped providers deliver better counseling and engage more with clients, because they didn’t have to spend time hand-writing clinical notes. Another country program added a module to document the results of follow-up calls or visits. This enabled the support office to identify trends arising in follow-up and use that information to support providers to improve quality of care.
For healthcare providers working in all kinds of circumstances – from clients’ homes to remote health outposts – this innovative app makes their jobs a little easier. With new tools and better data, they can focus on providing high-quality care.
Community.Connect: Raising awareness about reproductive healthcare
Before a client ever arrives at an MSI service point, there’s a good chance she’s talked to a community-based mobilizer (CBM). Ahead of planned outreach visits, CBMs work to raise awareness about reproductive healthcare, support social and behavior change, and refer women to the services they need.
CBMs often work in very remote areas. Like our MSI Ladies and outreach providers, they needed a convenient way to track their activities.
We created Community.Connect to give CBMs mobile digital tools to speak with clients in an accessible, engaging way, track their activities and people they’ve reached, and make referrals. At its most basic level, the app allows CBMs to text in referrals – no smart phone necessary.
But when smart phones or tablets are available, additional features can help CBMs connect with potential clients through guided conversations, as well as track their performance over time. One such feature is the Behavior Change Communication questionnaire. CBMs use it to guide discussions around clients’ sexual health needs.
But the real hit has been a collection of animated videos about different contraceptive methods. One male client in Senegal noted: “Before I didn’t have any information on family planning, it is only women who went there. But with this video everything is clearer and it speaks to me directly.”
Innovating to improve reproductive healthcare
Can mobile technology help us improve our services for our clients? The MATE project showed that the answer is yes!
For individual providers and community-based mobilizers, the convenience, security and tools to improve client engagement helped them do their jobs more effectively. But the apps made a difference for support office staff too. With quality data readily available, they can make better decisions about where to send providers and what activities to prioritize.
Through this project, we’ve been able to create context-specific mobile tools. We can use these tools for all sorts of purposes, from collecting data for a specific research project to instituting text-message-based reporting for providers. In Nigeria, a brand-new custom add-on allowed providers to go paperless—and they said that it improved the quality of their counselling.
We’ll continue testing and piloting innovative new app ideas to help us reach more women and provide a better experience for the women we serve.