On the heels of the United Nations Social Innovation Summit, HP and nonprofit organization Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (PING) are launching a collaboration to improve the quality and efficiency of disease surveillance in Botswana through mobile health monitoring technology that can enhance protection and prevention against major malaria outbreaks.
“We’re focused on addressing health and development problems by not only using technology in an innovative way, but also by creating more problem solvers in the local population. By combining our socially active core with innovation and business acumen from HP, and the scale of government organizations, we can achieve the greatest opportunity for lasting social change,” says PING operations director Katy Digovich.
Advancing the country toward its goal of malaria elimination, the initiative uses HP webOS and cloud computing technology to enable health workers to more efficiently predict, observe and minimize the harm caused by outbreaks.
According to Gabriele Zedlmayer, vice president, Office of Global Social Innovation at HP, “there is tremendous opportunity for mobile technology to transform public health services in both developing and developed markets. The full potential of applying mobile and cloud services to advance healthcare has yet to be reached, and we’re committed to applying our technology expertise to help address some of the world’s most difficult global health challenges.”
In partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and mobile network provider MASCOM, the program equips healthcare workers in Botswana with HP Palm Pre 2 smartphones to collect malaria data, notify the Ministry of Health about outbreaks and tag both data and disease surveillance information with GPS coordinates. This data will contribute to a first-ever geographic map of disease transmission in the country, enabling faster response times and better measurement of malaria cases to monitor treatment and scale up the distribution of mosquito nets.
The program’s year-long pilot phase is the largest mobile health pilot program in Botswana, running throughout the malaria season. Future programs are planned to reach additional outbreak-prone diseases in the region.
- Data analysis in the cloud: The initiative enables healthcare workers to collect data via a webOS application on a mobile device, upload the data over a mobile network, and analyze and share the data via the cloud. Through this system, analysis now takes hours rather than weeks to complete.
- Rapid outbreak notification: When an outbreak is detected, healthcare workers can quickly upload specific case and location information from their mobile devices in the field. Health officers in the area and members of the Ministry of Health then receive a text message alerting them of the outbreak, enabling rapid deployment of preventative measures to reduce disease transmission.
- Higher accuracy with real-time surveys: Through the flexibility and ease of development on the webOS platform, a surveillance application enables health workers to perform real-time surveys from the field. Health workers are able to enter accurate, context-rich data through pictures, video, audio, GPS coordinates, qualitative and quantitative information about the case.
In the next phase of the program, HP and PING plan to develop a cloud-based health services package for consumers in Botswana, creating a sustainable system for delivering even more health-related information to users over mobile networks.
Advancing health monitoring
Despite progress in disease eradication, the World Health Organization reports that more than 780,000 people died from malaria-related illnesses in 2009, most of them children under the age of five. In Africa, 75 million people, or 10 percent of the population, are at risk to contract malaria.(1) Mobile technology has the potential to drastically improve malaria surveillance by speeding data collection and generating more context-aware information about outbreaks.
Health initiatives in Africa
As part of the company’s global social innovation program, HP aims to enrich society by using the breadth and scale of its technology to drive structural, systemic improvements in health access and delivery.
In addition to the collaboration with PING, HP has alliances with African social enterprise mPedigree to fight counterfeit malaria drugs through an innovative mobile phone and cloud services solution; nonprofit organization mothers2mothers to help prevent HIV transmission from mothers to infants; and the CHAI to greatly improve the speed of HIV diagnosis for infants in Kenya.