The New York Times reported this week on a recent study showing that basic text messages that contain malaria care protocols allowed nurses in Kenya to handle 24% more cases correctly. The study, published in the Lancet, carried out a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) in which 119 randomly selected health workers received two text messages each day, containing national guidelines on how to treat children with malaria. The researchers assessed how well the health workers managed their cases, compared to a control group of health workers which did not receive the messages.
This is big news, and the first RCT study showing that text messages direct to health care providers makes a significant impact on patient care.
Among other things, the study shows that the text messages led to a 30% increase in health workers giving the first dose of malaria treatment at the facility. The researchers describe this action as critical, as it ensures immediate treatment, and is associated with continued adherence to the full treatment course. And, even after 6 months of the intervention, the text messages had significant impact on workers giving the first dose at the facility.
The article truly speaks well for our MDNet program. By developing an innovative way to create large nationwide networks of health professionals, we are building the foundation for governments and health organizations to scale just the kind of intervention described in the study.
Using free calling as an incentive to join, we create nationwide networks of health workers. This allows us to collect information on health workers’ locations, specialities, and mobile phone contact information. With our proposed Ensemble Bulk SMS system, governments and health organizations can then send text messages direct to health workers’ phones. So, with MDNet and Ensemble, governments can efficiently educate and remind health workers of care protocols of any kind – countrywide and across any specialty.
And, messaging health workers is not only beneficial to patients, it’s also cost-effective.
To quote the New York Times article:
“Since each text cost less than a penny, every nurse in rural Kenya could get reminders for $39,000, the study said. That is far cheaper than sending trainers or brochures, neither of which improved care much, the authors said.”
Note: Photo Credit – James Hill/The New York Times