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Open Access Using mHealth to enhance TB referrals in a tribal district of India

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Background: A mobile health (mHealth) technology based application was developed to help rural health care providers (RHCPs) identify and refer presumptive tuberculosis (TB) patients to the nearest microscopy centre for sputum examination using mobile applications on their smart phones.

Objective: To determine the feasibility and yield of presumptive TB case referrals by RHCPs using mHealth technology.

Methods: The project was implemented in the tribal population of Khunti District, Jharkhand State, India, from April 2012 to February 2015. ‘ComCare’, a mobile application designed as an aid for health care providers, was introduced and RHCPs were trained in its use.

Results: Of 171 RHCPs who were formally trained to identify and refer presumptive TB patients, 30 were trained in the use of the mobile application. There were 35 referrals of presumptive TB patients per RHCP using the mobile application, and four each by RHCPs who were not using the application. Of the 194 TB cases diagnosed, RHCPs using the application contributed 127 (i.e., 4 TB cases per RHCP), while other RHCPs contributed 67 (0.5 TB case per RHCP).

Conclusion: mHealth technology was highly effective, and increased both public and private health care provider accountability to patients.
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Keywords: India; RHCP; mHealth; rural health care providers; tuberculosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease South-East Asia Office, New Delhi, India 2: The Department of Community Medicine, Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), Medical College and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (PGIMSR), Bangalore, India

Publication date: June 21, 2017

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly open access on-line journal, provides a platform for its mission 'Health solutions for the poor'. PHA addresses the need for show-casing operational research that addresses issues in health systems and services. It publishes high-quality scientific research that provides new knowledge to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

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