We wanted to officially open our first GHDonline Expert Panel on “Health IT for Disaster Relief and Rebuilding: Lessons from post-earthquake Haiti.” Below are the project descriptions for each of the projects that they are doing in Haiti. We wanted to thank them for this opportunity to interact with them and also MobileActive.org for blogging about this event. This summary will be able to be found at www.mobileactive.org.
We encourage all members to send their questions and comments to this amazing panel.
John Brooks (MSF/Doctors Without Borders)
scope of work:
After the earthquake I left for Port au Prince on January 28, which was my seventh trip to Haiti in the past 18 months, and I stayed until the end of February. The main objectives of my field assignment were to adapt the OpenMRS-based data collection and reporting system to the post-earthquake setting and to establish a system for capturing follow-up variables for patients in post-operative care, including the establishment of procedures for capturing and reporting surgical complications. MSF's emergency response teams are well-experienced and extremely capable, but they are accustomed to the tried and true systems for data collection and activity reporting within MSF which are based on paper registers located in each service and ward. Because the OpenMRS project was a pilot program which had only been deployed in Haiti, most of the arriving MSF staff were not familiar with it and it was difficult to explain the utility of a robust relational database in that setting, especially in French.
The main challenges of the project in the post-earthquake setting were training the many new expat staff how to complete the data collection forms correctly, especially when any coding was required, and training the hospital staff in the critical importance of maintaining the integrity of the patient identification system. There were lots of other challenges, like computer viruses and short-circuited wiring buried in the mud of the tent floor after a rainstorm, but overall the systems for data collection and reporting stabilized by the time of my departure. I can't speak for all of MSF, but I can say that my experience in Haiti has taught me that we need to assess how we can integrate data management and better informatics tools in the disaster response and critical emergency settings.
Ed Jezierski (INSTEDD)
- Transitioning technologies that were rapidly deployed after the earthquake into the hands of locals
- Deployment of technologies in a way that support overall health systems strengthening that are locally owned instead of lots of unintegrated efforts
Solution --- always in progress!
- Working with local developers s to help implement changes to systems or just basic technical support
- Working with telecommunication companies to provide more than one-off solutions
- Working with mayor partners (Partners In Health, iTech), mHealth alliance and others
- Port-au-Prince wide or national
- Technology investments need more data to be seen as obvious from traditional health funders. E.g. adherence to protocol, efficacy, efficiency etc.
- Opportunities to leapfrog inefficiencies are being missed and as funding is leaving, maybe will never materialize
- The influx of capital has created a competitive environment in Haiti for local organizations participating in reconstruction
Josh Nesbit (FrontlineSMS)
Working alongside a number of partners, FrontlineSMS:Medic helped coordinate the 4636 Project, an effort to create an emergency communications channel after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Teaming up with the Office of Innovation at the US Department of State, technology groups (Ushahidi, InSTEDD, CrisisMappers at Tufts, CrowdFlower, Samasource, Sahana Foundation, and others), Haitian mobile operators, and aid organizations, a system was created to process text messages communicating needs from the ground. Using crowd-sourced translation, categorization, and geo-tagging, reports were created for first responders within 10 minutes of receiving an SMS. Over 70,000 messages were received in the first month of operation, focusing relief efforts for thousands of Haitians.
We are currently planning new pilots with Partners in Health -- I will share details with the GHDonline community as the scope of work solidifies. The projects may incorporate OASYS (a new messaging module for OpenMRS), PatientView (an SMS-based, lightweight EMR), or modules under development.