A national scaling up of a community-driven approach to health care services was launched by the Ghana Ministry of Health (GHS) in 2000 to reduce maternal and childhood mortality. Known as “CHPS” for the Community-based Health Planning and Services Initiative, the program relocates nurses from clinics to communities and mobilizes evidence-based strategies such as volunteerism and social support to enhance work processes and improve health outcomes.
While CHPS works where it is implemented, the program has yet to achieve its full promise as a scaled up service system. Patient needs associated with pregnancy, delivery, and early infancy are not fully addressed, in part because information available to nurses and volunteers is inadequate for supporting home-based services to newborns. Currently, community-based health care workers spend vast amounts of time recording service encounters on patient cards and manually aggregating data for monthly reports, but this information is not used to enhance their daily work. The current system does not allow individual-level data to be used to guide clinical decision-making processes.
While these problems are significant, they are not insurmountable. MoTeCH is testing whether the adaptation of existing mobile phone technology can help address these problems by significantly easing information capture and feedback for community-based health care workers, thereby improving their efficiency and effectiveness. In addition to data collection, MoTeCH is supporting information feedback capabilities, via alerts and reminders to community-based nurses and health information messages as well as personalized reminders to pregnant and new parents to increase utilization of health services.