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Smartphones and Tablets Improve Patient Care

Simba Mhere, South African celebrity and MC for the MHIS project celebration (shown here with author), took to Twitter during the event encouraging his followers and event attendees to connect with the @Qualcomm_GA handle and chat at #wirelessreach.

Robust data from Phase II of the Qualcomm Wireless Reach™ Mobile Health Information System (MHIS) project in the Eastern Cape of South Africa shows that 3G mobile devices used at the point of care can truly assist nurses and doctors in overcoming access-to-information challenges and providing better support to patients. The MHIS is a private sector and government collaboration that has shown positive progress and tangible evidence of its impact.

This project has been part of my life since joining the Qualcomm Wireless Reach team, and while it was expected that it would positively impact health workers and their patients, the results went above and beyond expectations. In honor of the work we have done together, MHIS stakeholders gathered to announce the results during a project celebration event held on August 1st in remote Mthatha, South Africa. Participants included: the Eastern Cape Department of Health (ECDOH), FHI 360, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and MTN South Africa.

In previous blogs, I’ve described the MHIS project and the ways nurses and doctors in the Eastern Cape Province—a region where many health workers cannot access the Internet for pertinent health care data —use Internet-capable smartphones and tablets to access health information instantly. I’m extremely pleased to report that the benefit of the MHIS continues. This project launched in 2009 with 50 nurses at the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex. In 2012 it expanded to 125 more nurses and doctors who work in urban and rural health care facilities all over South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

After the addition of these nurses and doctors, NMMU conducted a comprehensive evaluation study that found positive results. Accessing health information at the point of care assisted:

  • All nurses and more than 80 percent of doctors who use the MHIS in making an accurate diagnosis.
  • All nurses and more than 92 percent of doctors who use the MHIS in prescribing the correct treatment for their patients.
  • 96 percent of nurses and more than 80 percent of doctors who use the MHIS in prescribing the correct medication dosage.

Project sustainability is a goal for every Wireless Reach project. Although I feel a strong sense of ownership, the MHIS belongs to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and Qualcomm has transferred our project responsibilities to the ECDOH. This project will continue to thrive, with the ECDOH recently announcing a commitment to disseminating 1,000 more mobile devices to future users. In addition, wireless network provider MTN is crafting a new data package and will continue discounting devices and connectivity plans to encourage more health providers to participate. NMMU is also introducing the MHIS into its nursing curriculum.

I am fortunate to have been a part of this project and amazed by how much it has grown since its incubation with the initial integration of mobile devices. MHIS success is undoubtedly due to the hard work and dedication of all project stakeholders, along with the health workers, whose desire and drive to learn more in order to improve health care, continues to motivate us all. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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