Providing appointment, medication and health information to patients by textBy Praekelt Foundation
TxtAlert is an automated, free, personalised text service for patients with chronic conditions, especially HIV/AIDs, in South Africa, where more than 80% of the population has mobile phones.
The service reminds patients to take their drugs, cutting the number of people who stop taking vital antiretroviral, and other medications from 30% to just 4 or 5% in some areas. They also remind patients of appointments, or let them reschedule: streamlining administration, cutting the number of missed appointments and creating trackable data so staff and clinicians can identify any patients that are at risk of default and take preventative steps. A free ‘Please Call Me’ message system lets patients ask clinics to call them back if they are out of credit.
Telecoms professional Gustav Praekelt set up the Praekelt Foundation in 2006, realising their pervasiveness could make them a key lever for social change in Africa.
The foundation’s programmes have now reached 50m people in 15 countries and the HIV TxtAlert programme, called Project Masiluleke, has sent a billion messages, the largest use of telecoms for AIDS information dissemination.
Accurate appointment reminders are particularly important in these settings: where health clinics are stretched to capacity, and many patients are poor and travelling long distances to attend appointments, to wait in long queues when they arrive only to be sent away to repeat the process if they are there on the wrong day. The tool also prompts patients to call the national free AIDS hotline for psychosocial support or to complain. These are services that overburdened medical clinics do not have time to deliver: generating between 2 and 3,000 phone calls a month.
Image courtesy of TxtAlert
Last updated: 19th of September, 2014