eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 3

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 3: Mobile Innovations in Health


Chair Introduction: Arleen Seed, Senior eGovernment Specialist


Mobile Communications for Health
Brendan Smith, Senior Consultant, Vital Wave Consulting

focusing on technology in emerging markets

past years – sharp rise in in interest for eHealth solution & explosion in mobile phone usage

mHealth (n) – the delivery of health care services via mobile communication devices

  • e.g. digital patient data – mHealth may provide the lat mile access for that

mobile phones reach further into developing countries than any other technology

there’s a broad array of mHealth solutions

  • education & awareness
  • epidemy tracking
  • emergency
  • data collection
  • remote monitoring
  • diagnostic & treatment support

mHealth is implemented in developing countries around the world

different target groups

a lot of projects focus more on health system outcomes than health outcomes

there is a huge need for research on outcomes of mHealth projects

  • to establish a proof of concept
  • beyond the pilot state

most projects use data collection technology, not so much SMS or voice technology (only 5%)

  • voice calls are expensive in most developing countries

more sophisticated applications also cost more and require higher capacities

case study:

  • text to change in Uganda
  • 15000 mobile phone subscribers
  • 40% more people tested for HIV

Conclusion – advice for strong and sustainable mHealth projects:

  • Forge strong partnerships
  • Be accessible
  • Design with the end user in mind and maintain a focus on usability
  • Build a long-term funding plan
  • Set measurable goals
  • Collaborate with other mHealth organizations


Rwanda Case Study
Pamela Johnson
, Co-Founder and Chief Health Officer, Voxiva
Ruton Hinda, TRACplus
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Voxiva SARL.

Founding Voxiva: Connecting the internet and the mobile phone can make a difference

IT has transformed financial services in a substantial way – there is a similar possibility in health which has just begun

TRACnet platform:

  • builds on existing telecom infrastructure
  • collecting real time information from the field via mobile phone, …
  • communicate
  • analyzes data and visualizes it
  • get feedback in real time
  • identifying shortage of medicine
  • Strong partnerships are vital

Access and use

  • widespread access- 1000 user at 219 facilities throughout Rwanda
  • multi-channel access using a national toll free phone number, web, a PC client, a mobile phone client
  • 90% facilities reporting by IVR


  • more than 95% routine reporting


  • 99% uptime
  • secure, access controlled, redundant datacenter infrastructure hosted in Rwanda managed 24/7
  • TRACnet leverages a standard based infrastructure evolving into open standards from scale and interoperability

Challenges & opportunities:

  • in the last 10 years all the health centers have gotten mobile phone coverage, in the next decade they all will have high bandwidth connectivity, health centers and schools get more and more connected,  many more changes with unforeseen consequences
  • Sustainability of large scale systems: very different as in private sector
  • Complex architecture also creates more problems – passwords, interoperability, …

e-SOKO: mobile based agriculture information system in Rwanda

  • based on TRACnet approach
  • improving efficiency very much


Commentary by Andi Dervishi, Global Practice Lead, Investments in Payments, IFC

Parallels to the mBanking session & challenges for investors

  • it’s a big big market as everybody on earth is a potential consumer of these services
  • there has to exist a core electronic backbone – but does not exist yet in the health sector
  • general regulation around healthcare is obsolete, there has to be more freedom for companies to operate more freely
  • bottleneck – the business will only move with the pace of the government

data problem in eHealth system, it’s more complex and bigger

  • also limited to information services only as doctors and nurses are still in charge, they only have to be informed


  • Establishing the core electronic backbone
  • Integration of core health system with big players in place


Q & A

Challenges and successes in cooperating with the ministry of Health?

  • critical mass of human capacity to work with private sector – finding out the needs of the beneficiaries, quite much work
  • understanding of all pieces for health solution work, understanding of technology, opening up the minds of certain people

Rwanda has an eHealth strategy – does Ghana have one too?

Is there a focus on women?

  • Often women are the primary decision makers on health care; study in rural Uganda: women valued their mobile phones very highly

Tags: , , , , ,
eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 3
was published on 16.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
2 Comments AddThis Feed Button

2 Responses to “eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 3”

  1. eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation - Session 3 IM Consultant Says:

    […] the original here: eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 3 By admin | category: consulting companies, senior consultant | tags: arleen-seed, […]

  2. Aman Says:

    It is great that you put up your notes from the event, thanks for taking the effort to do that.

    Was there any discussion of failures? mHealth has exploded onto the scene and I hear lots of excitement, but one thing I have not heard – what is not working? Would be great to get your thoughts on this.