Event Recap: Ebola Film Screening with IntraHealth

Posted | Posted in Events

Last night, we co-hosted an Ebola and mHealth film screening and discussion with the Triangle mHealth Consortium. 

We watched a short Frontline documentary on Ebola (watch it here– it’s sad, you’ve been warned), and then David Potenziani, the Senior Informatics Advisor at IntraHealth, gave us a demo of one of the tools they developed to respond to the crisis and hosted a discussion. 

IntraHealth launched mHero, an “integrated health worker communication and coordination system” that routes through SMS.  Essentially, it pulls health worker phone numbers from a linked database and sends out SMS campaign-style surveys to check in with their field health workers. mHero can complete a wide range of tasks. For example, it can ask all health workers if they’re experiencing Ebola symptoms, and then direct them to the appropriate health center. It can also be used to text workers and see whether their assigned emergency sites are open and functioning. Mr. Potenziani even gave us a demo, which was super cool.

It took a global consortium to be formed in order to launch and scale mHero – 15 organizations including international NGOs, local government ministries, and telecommunication companies had to work together to create this amazing tool. He gave us a good reminder that 

A solution can be technically simple, but politically quite complex. 

It was also a great display of how to leverage an outbound, campaign style platform (like the ones that are ubiquitous in Africa and many parts of Asia) to get to a targeted and even tailored solution. For example, I can send a campaign out to all the healthcare workers and send them a targeted message based on their response. 

It was also a good reminder that even if it isn’t easy to get all the players at the table, it’s well worth it to try. In a year or so, mHero should be ubiquitous around Africa.