In the age of everything turning digital including healthcare, it becomes all the more important to be a part of this global digital push. Digital healthcare can not only create new care models but also can create better patient engagement and clinical efficiency. This is something that fits perfectly with India needs with its population. Dr Aparna, founder of ARMMAN and a gynecologist by profession won the Digital Woman Entrepreneur award by She The People in the Digital Healthcare Space for Social Cause. She was selected among Top 60 women across India working in the field of Digital Space. Based on the experiences of the founder during her early years of practicing at a municipal hospital and the realization that timely information is crucial for saving lives of pregnant mothers and their newborns, led to the conception of technology based information service. Did you know more than ninety percent of the complications during the pregnancy can be prevented with preventive care information?
People in the rural areas often have to travel to long distances to access healthcare, which means loss of daily wages for that particular day. Besides, due to gender insensitivity, women who go to the hospitals alone are looked down upon and often need someone to accompany them, which mean loss of two wages. Even in cases of emergency, they cannot afford to access healthcare. Also city bred doctors do not relocate while young professionals from villages who become doctors move to the cities for better opportunities. The doctors at the urban municipal hospitals are over loaded with patients and do not have the time to counsel the patients. In this situation digital can provide a solution and leveraging technologies like analytics, cloud, social, mobile and the internet of things one can definitely leverage solutions like Tele-medicine, digital preventive healthcare, Remote ICU and big data to change the way care is delivered in the country.
ARMMAN identifies and address systemic gaps in both health services delivery and community health care seeking practices by adopting multi-sectoral evidence based ‘community needs assessment’ approach in the field of digital healthcare. mMitra is a free mobile voice call service that provides culturally appropriate comprehensive information on preventive care and simple interventions to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in urban and rural communities across India. It has impacted the lives of more than 2, 00,000 beneficiaries in urban poor communities in Mumbai Metropolitan, Nashik and Pune, Nandurbar, Raigad and has reached 250 villages in Solapur, Osmanabad and Washim. We aim to reach the household of 5, 00,000 beneficiaries by 2016.
Our Arogya Sakhi Home based Antenatal and post natal care project has created 166 health entrepreneurs that were selected from the village and trained to provide preventive care to the beneficiaries. They perform diagnostic and preventive care tests for a nominal fee. They collected individual data which is stored in the app, encoded in their mobile phones. The app not only saves time, energy and resources but is also efficient in the maintaining and searching of clinical records. This alerts our health workers for any high risk signs or symptoms of complications during pregnancy. It can also be used by the ASHA workers and ANMs (auxiliary midwife), effectively to gain information for family planning programs, mother and child healthcare facilities, trends in diseases and for the government to implement healthcare schemes at the grassroots level. This project has enriched the lives of 1500 beneficiaries by providing free voice calls and animations on important topics that is shown to the family collectively, to encourage open discussions and encourage the beneficiary to speak her mind and take her own life decisions. These animations are embedded on the mobile phones. Many of our health workers are absorbed in government welfare programmes and Gram Panchayat. What about lack of internet connectivity in the interiors? Internet connectivity does not threaten the sustainable work of our health workers as the app can work offline.
Narendra Modi only fortifies what we are currently doing in the field of digital space for a social cause. Recently, Prime Minister Nerendra Modi said that his government wants to effectively use its ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns to reach healthcare to the country’s poorest of the poor. He also raised grave concern over neonatal and maternal mortality rates in India. “Preventive care is the most important component of healthcare. Getting treatment for a disease is expensive, staying healthy is inexpensive. This is what most of our projects focus upon ‘affordable preventive digital health care. If a beneficiary had a cough and uneasiness during pregnancy, but cannot forgo their daily wages to reach there and choose to ignore it, a call from a health worker or care giver can make them realize the gravity of ignoring the symptoms and suggest simple interventions and preventive healthcare counseling can be a life saver.