⇓ More from ICTworks

Process Improvements: The Forgotten Big Wins in Digital Development

By Guest Writer on July 6, 2016

Working with ICT, we often get myopically focused on trying solving big problems, not even thinking about where technology has proven benefit: improving systems and processes. Instead of asking, “What problems can ICT solve?” we should ask ourselves, “What processes can ICT improve?”

This approach intends to examine the fundamental practices that can be improved by using ICT as a catalyst, focusing on the day-to-day activities of community health workers, data entry clerks, health managers, or supervisors. Improving the basic building blocks of data flow and management at the field staff level can produce results that are seen and quantified quickly.

The International Rescue Committee has developed a training exercise with this in mind. It has three simple, but powerful components:

  • Start with examples of ICT applications that can be used to enhance field-based activities. The training starts with examples centered around 4 project areas; improving provider capacity, increasing constituent knowledge, strengthening systems, and data collection. For example, under ‘improving provider capacity’, example projects include embedding CHW treatment algorithms on smartphones and providing automated vaccination defaulter lists for facilities.
  • Examine staff daily activities and assess where processes are working well. Using the examples, staff members examine their own daily activities to investigate ICT applications that can be applied to enhance their work. Participants are encouraged to think about processes that are in place and working well, but could use a small enhancement. For example, support supervision visits are already taking place regularly, but having the data in real time would be helpful. At the end of the brainstorming, all the ideas are collected for review as a group.
  • Assess ideas against a standard set of considerations. As a group, staff evaluates the ideas against considerations identified as the main challenges to deploying ICT projects. Considerations include staffing, data access, mobile coverage, literacy, technology familiarity, logistics (including replacement devices and power), and data protection. As staff discusses each idea, only projects with workable solutions move forward.

Implementing this exercise in Myanmar, with a field team comprised of a variety of health managers, coordinators, and data entry clerks, identified 14 possible ICT projects.

Five were evaluated into potential pilot projects, including, SMS reminders for family planning clients, SMS health messaging, digital data collection for PHC and WASH programs, and CHW treatment guidance – all activities that were well-designed and functioning, but could be enhanced through use of mobile technology.

We can recognize tremendous potential within projects that have a firm foundation of solid information management practice. It might not seem as innovative as sending an appointment reminder to a pregnant mom or using a digital textbook in classrooms, but it can be much more effective.

By Paul Amendola, Technical Advisor for Health Information for the International Rescue Committee based in New York.

Filed Under: Management
More About: , , , , ,

Written by
This Guest Post is an ICTworks community knowledge-sharing effort. We actively solicit original content and search for and re-publish quality ICT-related posts we find online. Please suggest a post (even your own) to add to our collective insight.
Stay Current with ICTworksGet Regular Updates via Email

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.