Public Health Surveillance In Rural Communities Via Mobile Health Data Collection

The Dept. of Health, Mobile Ophthalmic Clinic....

The Dept. of Health, Mobile Ophthalmic Clinic. Operating in Arab villages of the South Country, N.E. of Gaza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gathering meaningful public health data from low-income rural communities poses significant challenges for healthcare authorities. Due to inadequate financial resources, disadvantaged communities lack the components of modern technology such as access to computers, landline telephones and reliable electrical power stations. In addition, other factors such as civil unrest and an inadequate transportation infrastructure hamper data collection.

In these communities, field workers collect public health data utilizing a paper-based system; the data is later taken from a paper format and converted into an electronic format for easier evaluation by medical professionals. Although functional, manual data entry collation has its disadvantages.

Crucial mistakes may occur during time-consuming data transfers, wasting resources as mistakes are identified and corrected. Consequently, paper-based data collation causes unnecessary delays in sending funding and health supplies to communities, which impedes treatment time and puts the health of critically ill individuals in jeopardy.

With the increased penetration of mobile devices into rural areas – a growing trend in 2013 and beyond – mobile health data collection offers important advantages such as efficiency, improved accuracy and speed. Field employees collect information from households, input their data into electronic forms stored on mobile devices such as tablet computers or smartphones, and swiftly convey data to medical treatment centers and government health authorities for analysis.

Healthcare providers and top-level government agencies can then track and predict health patterns at a local, regional or national level, efficiently allocate funds and medical resources to communities with the greatest needs, and ensure that the quality of health care rises significantly in rural areas.

Mobile health data collection has multiple ramifications for the healthcare industry and government agencies. It enables the penetration of contagious diseases in a community to be rapidly tracked and mapped, and sources of contaminated water or other deterrents to public health can be speedily identified and eliminated to ward off dangerous epidemics.

Mobile health data collection may also be used to track family planning in a community, to ensure vaccination coverage for common illnesses such as measles and malaria, or to provide real-time, evidence-based information to determine the severity of public health threats after natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or tsunamis.

Comprehensive mobile health data collection solutions such as COMMANDmobile® provide several benefits:

  • Tailoring of data forms to ensure the collection of accurate and thorough data during surveys
  • Accurate tracking of field worker activities through global positioning system software
  • Protection of private medical data during transmission, in accordance with current privacy regulations
  • Employee training is minimized because software is compatible with legacy enterprise software solutions
  • Easy portability of mobile devices to any environment
  • Improved ROI and cost savings

To see COMMANDmobile in use, request a demo account.

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About DeAnna Davidson

DeAnna Davidson is a proven technologist and business leader who is passionate about the power of mobile computing to revolutionize a business or industry, and dedicated to helping organizations use mobile, wireless, and web technologies to their advantage.

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