How can information technologies be used to support health organizations, community health workers, and communities? We believe that computing can have a huge impact on improving the health of people in developing communities. Our interests include the design and implementation of systems for data collection, electronic and biometric medical records, health education tools, and systems to encourage healthy behaviors. In addition, we use ethnographic methods to study the assimilation of information technologies in health contexts. A few current projects are below.
One component of improving treatment of diseases such as HIV infection or tuberculosis entails ensuring medication adherence. Failure to complete a full course of medication results in re-infection and drug-resistant infections. We are working on technologies to improve medication adherence, including:
Persuasive Health Education
Mobile phones are robust, portable devices that can be used for a variety of tasks, including the sharing of video content. Numerous projects seek to leverage this platform for public health education, using apps and video to enable providers and patients to augment their health knowledge. However, merely watching a video may not result in behavior change. We investigate ways to improve the persuasiveness of health education interventions:
- Comparing normal video ('lecture') to interactive ('dialogic') formats.
- Working with Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in Orissa to measure and compare benefits of flipchart and mobile video-assisted counseling, see ASHA Assist project page.
Understanding Electronic Record-Keeping
Especially in rural contexts, paper is the de-facto technology used to maintain patient records and to collect data to support monitoring of outcomes. However, paper-based recordkeeping is tedious, and subject to potential damage or loss of the records. As organizations seek to move towards electronic records, we investigate various devices, methods of input, and the overall interaction between organizations, health workers, and the data collection process. Projects include:
- Case studies on the use of low-cost mobile devices and digital slates for management of rural child malnutrition.
- Comparing the efficacy document collection and direct observation to mobile data collection in maternity wards in Iganga, Uganda for measuring delays in care and other health outcomes.
- Study of the roles of non-instrumental use in improving health worker engagement with data collection activities.
Some other healthcare-related work
- Michael Paik, Navkar Samdaria, Aakar Gupta, Julie Weber, Nupur Bhatnagar, Shelly Batra, Manish Bhardwaj, and William Thies, A Biometric Attendance Terminal and its Application to Health Programs in India, in ACM Workshop on Networked Systems for Developing Regions, June 2010
- Nupur Bhatnagar, Abhishek Sinha, Navkar Samdaria, Aakar Gupta, Shelly Batra, Manish Bhardwaj, and William Thies, Biometric Monitoring as a Persuasive Technology: Ensuring Patients Visit Health Centers in India's Slums, International Conference on Persuasive Technology, June 2012
- Indrani Medhi, Mohit Jain, Anuj Tewari, Mohini Bhavsar, Michael Matheke-Fischer, and Edward Cutrell, Combating Rural Child Malnutrition through Inexpensive Mobile Phones, Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 2012
- Pranav Ramkrishnan, Aditya Vashistha, Ed Cutrell, and Bill Thies, DocTalk: Extending Doctors' Reach with Personalized Voice Messages, ACM Symposium on Computing for Development (ACM DEV), January 2013
- Somani Patnaik, Emma Brunskill, and William Thies, Evaluating the Accuracy of Data Collection on Mobile Phones: A Study of Forms, SMS, and Voice, in IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, IEEE, April 2009
- Jonathan Donner and Patricia Mechael, mHealth in Practice: Mobile technology for health promotion in the developing world, Bloomsbury Academic, 2012
- Divya Ramachandran, John Canny, Prabhu Dutta Das, and Edward Cutrell, Mobile-izing health workers in rural India, in CHI '10: Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2010
- Divya Ramachandran, Vivek Goswani, and John Canny, Research and Reality: Using Mobile Messages to Promote Maternal Health in Rural India, in ICTD2010, 4th IEEE/ACM Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and International Development (ICTD) 2010, London, UK, IEEE, 13 December 2010
- Indrani Medhi, Anuj Tewari, Mohit Jain, and Edward Cutrell, The Fate of a Digital Slate: Unexpected Issues with Deployment in Rural India, in User Experience Magazine, vol. 11, 2012