From Mobility Outreach: Measuring Impact with mHealth Data

In today’s blog post, Carla Villoria, monitoring and evaluation officer at Mobility Outreach International talks about Mobility Outreach International’s mission and how her team is using CommCare to better track patient progress and measure success with the data collected. She also spills three tips for organizations interested in adopting mHealth solutions.

miWhat is Mobility Outreach International’s elevator pitch?

[Carla] Since 1989, Mobility Outreach International has served 20,000 adults and children immobilized by limb loss and deformity in neglected parts of the emerging world. Mobility Outreach International’s programs deploy expertise in prosthetics, orthotics and clubfoot treatment to offer advocacy, training, rehabilitation services and occasional orthopedic surgery. Additionally, Mobility Outreach International helps build and strengthen communities by using in-country expertise and materials to bring mobility to those with the fewest resources. Currently, we operate in Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Haiti and Bangladesh.

What is one of the biggest challenges Mobility Outreach International has faced in its global health programs?

[Carla] Although we have been collecting data for over 25 years, (first, on paper, and then through a combination of paper and excel), it has been difficult to get accurate, timely data from our local teams in-country. This sparse data collection has been a major challenge for our organization, since it limits our understanding of patients and the impact of our programs.

Proper data collection and analysis allows one to see trends, help with quality assurance, and improve overall treatment. That is why we decided to use CommCare, which helps us collect higher quality data that is available when we need it.

How did you find CommCare, and how are you using it in your programs?

[Carla] We wanted to expand our data collection efforts through mobile technology. After testing CommCare, along with other similar platforms, we decided it was the best fit for our organization. We use CommCare to track patient progress. Clinicians in each clinic register patients when they first come in and then update a patient’s case every time they come for a visit.

Among other things, CommCare has helped us:

  • Understand who your patients are. Knowing where a patient lives, how they heard about treatment, and whether patients are adhering to treatment helps us tremendously in improving our programs. For example, we can target our awareness efforts to the areas where few individuals have knowledge about the availability of rehabilitative services. We can then measure which type of awareness tactic works—whether it be TV ads, radio, posters, etc.
  • Determine treatment effectiveness and completion. The data collected empowers our local teams by helping them more accurately and efficiently track upcoming patient appointments and previous visits. This helps them understand the effectiveness of the treatment and whether patients are actually completing it. Among other things, healthcare providers can call specific patients to remind them of appointments, spot cases with re-occurring relapsing and provide extra support when needed.
  • Prove Impact. Collecting and visualizing patient data has been enormously helpful in demonstrating the impact of our programs. But what is even more exciting is what we will be able to show in the future. We’ll be able to track data we have never been able to measure and analyze in the past such as improvement in quality of life and percentage of patients benefitting financially from treatment. On top of this, we are eager to measure the effectiveness of specific interventions, such as a TV advertisement to raise awareness. This will empower us to make intelligent decisions about what works and what doesn’t.

Do you have any advice for similar groups thinking about using a mobile tool to monitor, evaluate and track impact?

[Carla] My three tips:

  1. Determine your desired outcome and impact first. Then, consider what data you need to collect to help you achieve your goals.
  2. Involve stakeholders and end users throughout the entire design process. Listen to them and incorporate their feedback
  3. Consider your end users. Your solution should empower end users — keep “what’s in it for them” top-of-mind.

Final words to organizations considering an mHealth solution… 

[Carla] Do it🙂 Even though we are only in the early stages of implementation, the solution has already been a game changer for our organization. Day after day, it continues to prove valuable. We are very excited about all of the doors it has opened for Mobility Outreach International.

Think CommCare could help your organization? If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to hear from you. Click the button below to schedule a quick call with us.

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