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Open source mobile technology software reinventing health care in developing countries
Date:4/28/2009

ollection for disease surveillance and immunization programs were inefficient health workers carried hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper to the field, a process that was inconvenient, expensive and environmentally unsound. Moreover, after the paper forms were filled out, the data would need to be manually entered into a computer system for analysis, which could take more than a year; this paper-based system severely hampered the ability for health organizations to evaluate the success of their programs and move quickly in battling disease outbreaks.

With the proliferation of mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), Selanikio recognized the potential of handheld computers in dramatically improving the data collection process. "I set out to develop software that was extremely simple to use; taking the skills, expertise and capacity that previously came with hiring a consultant and instead, put the necessary tools into the hands of the actual public health officer, nurse or physician," states Selanikio. "I was determined to make the software both free and open source, as not to raise barriers to data collection."

EpiSurveyor: Lowering the Barriers to High-Quality Data

It is uncommon for most citizens in developing countries to own desktop or laptop computers, but the use of mobile technology continues to grow with 64 percent of all mobile users living in developing nations. Selanikio and partner, technologist Rose Donna, formerly of the American Red Cross, co-founded DataDyne, a nonprofit devoted to information and communication technologies for public health and development, to capitalize on the prevalence of this hardware as the platform for EpiSurveyor. This free software package, which can be downloaded onto handheld mobile devices, allows health workers to become fully self-sufficient in programming, designing and deploying health surveys, eliminating the need for costly outside consultants, paper and manual da
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Contact: Julie Staadecker
jstaadecker@coneinc.com
617-939-8427
Lemelson-MIT Program
Source:Eurekalert  

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