SMS to improve Indonesian health care


Research Fellow Rohan Fisher
CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods Research Fellow Rohan Fisher is building the capacity for health service delivery via SMS in eastern Indonesia

East Indonesian district health offices are turning to text messages to deliver patient care following training from a team at Charles Darwin University.

CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods Research Fellow Rohan Fisher led a team that delivered training in West Timor, Sumba and Flores to 11 district health offices from the Nusa Tengga Timur province.

Mr Fisher said representatives were taught to use Frontline SMS software for health delivery and reporting to reach and monitor patients located in remote areas.

“Manual SMS health care delivery was already being used by district health offices, but it was underutilised and required around-the-clock monitoring,” Mr Fisher said.

“Frontline SMS software is free, simple and doesn’t require an Internet connection, just a computer that is set up as a SMS server to send and receive text messages.

“The system recognises and can be programmed to automatically respond to keywords with diagnosis, treatments and medication information.”

The software is being used by the district health department to collect information from pregnant women such as phone numbers, expected delivery date and existing health conditions. Health officers are able to check on the women two days before and two days after their due date to make sure they have access to a trained midwife.

A total of 40 mobile phones were provided to clinics in Flores, Sumba and West Timor, with an additional 60 mobile phones to midwives for further field trials.

Frontline SMS has been used for a wide range of health applications in the region, including malaria and rabies management, medication stocking and immunisations.

The software is used in more than 135 countries around the world for diverse uses, including disaster response, crime reporting, education and election monitoring.

CDU’s Dr Bronwyn Myers and Indonesian health representatives Nelson Sula and Andre Tanoe complete the project team.

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