"We are all working together towards a common goal, and therefore it is imperative that we work on standard technology platforms. We have to learn from each other, we have to contribute and share knowledge, and we must strive for success by collaborative & combined effort for delivering health and other poverty alleviation programs."
- Dr. Shelly Batra, Operation ASHA
"[The eCompliance system] facilitates providing accessible services and alleviates many of the boundaries between patients and them receiving treatment."
Operation ASHA's technology initiative, eCompliance, is a biometrics terminal which uses an android phone connected to a fingerprint reader. When patients come to treatment centers to take a dose, their fingerprint is taken. When they miss a dose, an SMS notification goes to community health care workers called Providers, who follow up with those patients at their homes, bringing with them a similar eCompliance unit. The system helps ensure both accessibility and complete adherence to the drug regiment, which is critical for preventing the development of drug-resistant TB due to incomplete treatment. The system also prevents Providers from gaming the system to take advantage of incentives given for following up with a patient.
"An important aspect of any technology device is its ability to 'fit' into the socio-cultural environment where it shall be used."
Dr. Batra makes the above statement and goes on to discuss how the eCompliance innovation is particularly effective in the regions Operation ASHA services. In her meetings with Microsoft Research, the developer of the eCompliance system, Dr. Batra stressed the importance of an inexpensive device with easy-to-replace parts. She notes that technologies must be financially viable to be effectively scaled. The system design features a color coded interface and minimal text, requiring minimal training. This makes the innovation adaptable to other cultures and languages, so it can be scaled to other countries around the world. The eCompliance system takes advantage of widespread network coverage in India by depending on SMS, which has a negligible cost.
"Technology empowers community health workers in more ways than one. It adds to their respect in the community, makes work simpler, prevents human errors, saves time, and most important, prevents the dreaded Drug Resistant TB, which occurs because of incomplete treatment."
Operation ASHA's successful eCompliance system can serve as a model for developing health innovations around the world. Read the full discussion, including the comments, to learn more about information and communication technologies and creative solutions for addressing access and scaling challenges.