Using Mobile Tech to Improve Health in Remote or Rural Communities
Many of the applications for health care reminders or aid focus on SMS, a low-cost communication channel that is supported on even the most basic mobile phones. However, the majority of existing SMS-based health applications use one-way ‘push’ messaging, in which generic messages are sent to large numbers of users who have no way to respond or they enable two-way communication between users and a server by requiring that users submit highly-structured messages that can be automatically parsed by the server. Although many SMS-based services would prefer to provide patients with personal attention that takes into account their specific context, they usually employ a small number of health workers who have limited amounts of time to engage in direct communication with individual users. This suggests a need for new approaches that increase the capacity of health workers and allow them to communicate effectively with a larger number of patients.