Tablets, mobile phones, social media, text messages, interactive voice response and other digital technologies have revolutionized the delivery of health information and services at home and around the world.
With roughly five billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, digital health initiatives offer enormous potential for new, participatory ways to relay information to frontline health workers and engage with people in some of the most remote corners of the planet.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’ leadership in the field of digital health is evident in communities and regions around the world, whether it is used to help people adopt healthier behaviors, share the most current health information or evaluate the success of our behavior change programs.
From Nigeria to Malawi, Pakistan to Guatemala, we work with ministries of health to use digital tools to help strengthen health systems and improve health outcomes. We use phones and tablets to gather real-time health information and to conduct mobile surveys on topics from family planning to HIV to Ebola. We have created eToolkits for community-based frontline health workers to enable them to bring up-to-date health messages directly to mothers and families.
In Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa, tens of thousands of pregnant women have signed up to receive health information and reminders for doctor’s appointments through text message services such as the Wazazi Nipendeni (Tanzania) and Hello Mama, developed by CCP.
In Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, we tested the “Smart Client” tool that employs the same interactive voice response technology used by automated customer service systems to deliver a fictional drama, personal stories and examples of successful family planning conversations right to mobile phones, free to the user.
CCP houses and co-chairs the Global Digital Health Network, a community of practice with more than 3,000 participants from 107 countries working in technology for health. The network runs a popular annual conference in Washington, DC, where we share lessons learned related to digital health in low- and middle-income countries.
As technology costs decline and innovations increase, CCP will continue to pave the way in the use of mobile and wireless technology to improve health outcomes worldwide.