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Key Learnings

In addition to the Community Health Innovation Network, our team is always striving to broaden and deepen our understanding of the potential for digital tools to support the delivery of care. Here are a few other learning initiatives we undertook in 2018:

Beneficiary feedback: We completed an exploratory design research phase on a a community feedback system intended to improve the quality and design of care delivery and services. We published a paper about our findings at the ICTD conference. We’re experimenting with using USSD for this concept and our explorations continue in 2019.

Early child development: Ensuring that children are hitting early developmental milestones is an important aspect of healthy growth and thriving into adulthood. There’s an exciting opportunity to incorporate this into other early child health workflows happening in the home. In collaboration with PATH and AfECN and the Ministries of Health in Siaya and Nairobi counties, we designed and piloted an integrated early childhood development workflow as part of the standard ANC, PNC, immunizations, and sick child visits that CHWs are providing. Targeted assessments, content, and responsive counseling aims to help health workers identify children who are missing critical milestones and provide caregivers with information and activities to help their children continue developing at a healthy rate.

2018 was also an important year for impact evaluations. In partnership with Muso, we published the results of a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) on precision supervision and personalized feedback dashboards to improve CHW supervision in Mali. We also began enrollment for a National Institutes of Health-funded RCT on the use of interactive text messaging for post-surgical voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) follow-up in Zimbabwe. Led by partners at I-TECH and the University of Washington, we look forward to completing the study in 2019.

Finally, ethnographic inquiry and engagement with conceptual work in science and technology studies remains central to our agenda for human-centered design research. For an important example from 2018, see our paper on failures of imagination in the tech community’s response to the Ebola epidemic, published in the Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work.

Few non-profit organizations are able to foster such a diverse and lively research program. In our case, it’s only possible thanks to an amazing community of research collaborators at the University of Washington, UCSF, Harvard, Cornell Tech, and beyond. These research partners played a key role in launching the Community Health Toolkit in late 2018, and we’re excited to see how their contributions will keep pushing our open source community forward.