eMpower: Technology amplifies our power

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The information technology and mobile revolution has taken the world by a storm; it has made our lives easier, access to information better and organize our data better to make it more viable. Record-keeping and documentation has become so organized, yet so simple! We, at Alliance India, understand and appreciate the power of technology, and have innovatively designed the eMpower mobile application to support client management within our Vihaan programme. Developed in collaboration with IBM Global Services and with support from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the app will enable more than 2,000 grassroots level users across the country to serve and monitor 1.2 million clients of Vihaan programme. Presently, most ORWs use manual methods to track their clients; the eMpower app will make it easier for them to manage client data, ensure improved confidentiality and more effective follow-up, through paperless documentation. This has also been instrumental in lowering the frustration levels of field workers who had to earlier spend hours preparing reports, while enhancing their performance and efficiency.

Alliance India’s Vihaan programme provides care and support services to people living with HIV (PLHIV) through its 361 care and support centers in 32 states and territories across the country. It caters to approximately 1.7 million PLHIV. Considering the fact that record keeping and documentation is a herculean task, the tablet based application is timely and apt. These tablets are provided to outreach workers (ORW) who are the ‘entry-point’ of any PLHIV seeking services. Each module has been developed with easy applicability, keeping in mind that each and every person, even with low literacy level, is able to operate the device efficiently. It should be noted that within the last two months 36,447 clients were screened for TB (ICF) which is much higher than the monthly average of 13,318 clients screened one year prior to the tablet implementation. Also, 521 family members of the registered clients were identified and referred for HIV testing, which is again higher than the previous monthly average of 453 family members. This proves that ultimately the technology is used to serve the PLHIV clients and not mere serving ORWs or reporting requirements.

The testimonies below continue to inspire our work on eMpower:

“When I saw the tablet, I wondered how I was expected to use this tool as it seemed hi-tech and meant for people who were highly educated. Then, I learnt that eMpower comes with a user-friendly software designed to match the needs of the Vihaan programme. I have very easily been able to learn this sophisticated gadget, which has not only helped me in organizing my work but also helped in boosting my confidence level.” ORW from Bhopal CSC

“I only recently learnt how to read and write, during my field job. Even the thought of using a tablet seemed like rocket science to me. Nevertheless, I decided to take on this challenge as I did not want to lose my job. Surprisingly, I noted that the user friendly software is so easy to operate that I did not find any difficulties in using the tablet to support my work. It just helped me in becoming more efficient.” ORW from Lucknow CSC

Another proud moment for those of us working towards developing the eMpower tablet, was when an ORW in Agra was able to demonstrate the need for tablet application in client tracking and follow up, while explaining its unique features, to the medical doctor.

These quotes show that eMpower has brought technology and power in the hands of grassroots level worker, busting the myth propounded by national level personnel that less educated grassroots workers are not capable of handling technology.

I would like to end by saying that I stand honored that “Alliance India is acquiring all the right technology for all the right reasons—to empower the grassroots and strengthen the healthcare of our country!”

The author of this blog is Balaji Bhagwan Ubarhande, Senior Technical Officer – Strategic Information department at India HIV/AIDS Alliance at New Delhi.

 

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