A community health promoter and physician's assistant working with BRAC in Uganda. Photo credit: David Peter Simon, Design Fellow at Medic Mobile.
Big shifts are underway in how health systems are designed, helping increase early access, coverage, and equity for essential services. Medic Mobile and our partners have been working hard to advance these changes. We are excited to share a new version of our software, designed specifically to support and accelerate these important shifts.
Shift #1: Health systems that are preventive, proactive, and timely by design – instead of slow and reactive.
Reactive systems that rely on sick patients showing up at facilities don't achieve equitable health outcomes. Health systems should be proactive and timely by design: mobile tools have an important role to play in bringing health workers to families' doorsteps often and early.
Shift #2: Supporting CHWs as health workers, not just data collectors.
We must recognize and fulfill the potential for community health workers to serve their neighbors – they are not just administrative agents, but care providers, listeners, and messengers whose accompaniment takes many forms. We must support CHWs as health workers, providing decision support and advancing professionalization.
We know that if we simply swap digital forms for paper forms, we risk falling short of providing the support that frontline health workers need to deliver timely, high-quality care and services that reach everyone. It's time to move digital tools for health beyond data collection.
Shift #3: Continuous support and performance management, rather than one-time training.
We believe that training and supervision for CHWs should not only be a one-time or monthly event, but rather is based upon an ongoing relationship between supervisors and health workers. CHWs deserve consistent and timely support from supervisors as they navigate complex realities on the front lines of global health.
Performance management is crucial to improve and strengthen the impact of health programs and services – there is power in knowing where we are today and where we could be tomorrow.
Shift #4: People-centered systems, rather than case- or form-based information systems.
Community-based health services should be integrated and designed to care for people over the full course of their lives. This means community health workers acting in coordination with facility staff, information made available to support care decisions, training that prepares health workers to address challenges faced by their communities, and in stock supply chains to deliver essential goods.
Integrated health systems require integrated technology tools that will support families over time and across a variety of health issues. If we simply organize health information by specific conditions or by form, we could miss opportunities to provide longitudinal support, leave out important social and historical context, and create unintuitive workflows.
Since the beginning of 2015, we have been redesigning our tools to support this vision of integrated, community-based delivery of high-quality health services. The design and launch of the mobile version of our app in 2016 led to important advancements. The app, which can be used on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, is now centered around people - the families, caregivers, women, and children in a health worker’s area. It helps health workers plan their time with tasks, guides them through complex workflows and actions, and shows them their progress towards their monthly goals.
In early 2017, we will release a version of our software that will support these critical shifts, with our vision, learnings, and values manifested across all of our tools including Medic Mobile for basic phones, smartphones, tablets, computers, and analytics. The version of the Medic Mobile released in 2017 will also support multiple user types, including community health workers, nurses, skilled birth attendants, managers, and other people who deliver care and support. It will support workflows and requirements in communities, facilities, and administrative offices. We’re excited to share how Medic Mobile will help household caregivers, community health workers, managers, and clinical teams work together to provide equitable care.