Securing healthy and safe pregnancy for African women by eHealth pregnancy mobile app.
Although African society is still immature in providing eHealth services, modern smartphones are not a curiosity for most urban African women anymore. The immaturity in data handling and digital health services have far-reaching consequences. Together with lack of communication and insufficient health knowledge, they increases the risk for more grave subsequents, such as maternal and fetus/child morbidity and mortality - which are still serious problems in many parts of Africa. To tackle those important issues, the MyHealth@Hand pregnancy mobile app was created together with Health[e]Foundation.
In Africa, most of the health data is saved manually to the disposable paper booklets and paper ledgers, by a separate book keeper. In rare cases there are information systems included. On top of manual handling, there is no concept of centralized digital data, and the data information passes through multiple stakeholders. Such data handling adds up the possibility for errors, which may lead to malpractice and other problems, all affecting negatively on moms’ and babies’ health.
To tackle the data transfer and storage issues, the app was designed to save all the data in the mom's own device - either by mom herself or by the healthcare worker. Therefore, the mom can manage with whom to share the data, have access to her data despite internet connection, and also delete it when needed.
Besides data handling challenges, there is a need for pregnant women to meet the healthcare workers more often. Most pregnant women meat the healthcare workers seldom, too often only once, during the pregnancy. Infrequent checkups makes it difficult to intervene early enough when problems occur.
However, booking appointments is not a common practice in many clinics in Africa. Most of the clinics just take the patients in whom happen to arrive to the clinic that day. Many moms are already at that point encountering problems, and preventive appointments are lacking. Lack of booking system makes it difficult to predict the queues, may lead to long waiting times, and make it impossible for the healthcare workers to manage their workload.
To encourage the moms to have more frequent health check ups, the app includes a booking system. The healthcare worker can better divide their workload between the clinic days, and ensure the moms would visit the clinic more often.
Chat with the healthcare worker
Besides booking appointments, the healthcare workers can also chat with the pregnant woman within the app, inbetween they see each other in person. The feature supports written messages, but in future also voice messages and pictures for those moms whom writing or reading skills are not sufficient for chatting in writing.
The chat functionality enables the moms to get help earlier and with less effort, which prevents more difficult health symptoms to emerge.
Learning center and health information
The application also gives correct and up to date information about the pregnancy in an easy to access and read form. The learning center features articles about moms’ and babies’ health, and provides information about the babys’ growth and the stage of pregnancy, throughout the pregnancy.
one project, two applications
MyHealth@Hand project consists two different applications: another for the moms and another for the healthcare workers.
The moms’ app includes:
• Storing the woman’s personal health data
• Storing the baby’s personal health data
• Information about the development of the pregnancy and how the baby is growing
• Health information and articles for the mom to take good care of herself and of her baby
• Help with family planning
The healtcare workers’ app includes:
• Digitally send mom’s own health data to her app
• Chat with the mom
• Book appointments with the mom
• Manage their workload and amount of appointments
customer value and user experience
As described above, the setting in Africa is quite different from the one we have in Europe, which highlighted the need for service design and customer understanding throughout the project. Most of the things we take for granted does not apply in Africa. As example of such case is the need to make sure the connection between healthcare worker and the mom is safe, but also usable in African environment with limited internet accesses and slow connections.
The ensure the app created real customer value and good user experience, the concept was created in close collaboration with Health[e] Foundation and their test users in Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda.
The pilot-phase of the MyHealth@Hand application has just started in Uganda, and will hopefully be soon followed by full launch.
The project was done in collaboration between Industry62 Estonia and Finland, merging the Estonian world class eHealth knowledge and Finnish state of the art design and mobile development skills. A match made in Industry62 <3