Have you ever observed a health informatics project in your (other) organization? Please provide a brief introduction.
I am currently working on an HIV prevention project for the high-risk populations at different townships across the country. One of the health informatics projects I observed is the enhanced outreach app that facilitates the data recording and collection of those clients, removes the duplication of data at ease, strengthening the referral process across different implementing partners and improve the visualization and analysis of the data.
How can this health informatics project help to improve the current practices?
Populations like men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers (SW) and other vulnerable populations (OVP) whose sexual behaviors are riskier than any populations have a chance of high risk to get infected with HIV. To promote the aware and to implement the HIV prevention activities, our peer workers in the field site have to reach their clients and record the frequency for contacting a client who got a comprehensive package of HIV prevention activities like health education, referral service and condom offering. As the daily recording and registration process is mainly based on hard copy documents, follow up reaching of clients take a remarkable time in finding their respective ID, searching historical record of service. During the reporting period, the field team has to remove duplicates if there’s any to get a unique headcount achievement for monthly reporting which is a burden for them. And reported data cannot be quickly verified if there’s any query since those data were aggregated manually.
Upon considering those challenges among the operating partners, the enhanced outreach app was created to facilitate the data recording process so that peers can record smoothly with a smartphone in real time. The app also includes searching the old clients in different options like their demographic info, given ID from app or QR code. It also reduces the duplication error and synchronization across different SR improves the referral mechanism for different service requirements. The imported data can be reviewed up to date and the field team can adjust and plan the activities as required. Monthly reporting is no more additional task, and it is updated time to time which is also favorable for the supervisor and project team to analyzed the gap easily. Different aspects of achievements can be extracted to the needs and that helps to improve the project achievements on long term basis.
Are there any challenges or difficulties in implementing the project?
Sure, it also has some challenges
People – some basic peers are not literate enough to record the data properly although they are experts in finding and tracing the high-risk clients for project implementation. Those peers need additional helper to put their record in the app. Another thing is that some clients feel uncomfortable answering their personal questions and seeing that the staff are recording those in a smartphone, they have some privacy concerns.
Hardware – With the pilot program, the organization has to support the smartphones to every peer and there is a chance of loss, being theft, and other maintenance charges for those devices.
Software – During the development of software, the developer and organization has to adapt and adjust the different requirements in the application and sometimes there may be a bug which causes the data to not show properly, missing the record. Sometimes, it takes a long period to readjust the data recording step to meet with the updated requirements of the program. So, implementing partners cannot rely too much on the application and they had to keep the parallel hard copy record as a backup.