Steady advancements in technology mean that there’s no reason why fields of health and technology should not go hand in hand. After all, with great technology comes a great bit of responsibility, and it’s certainly not restricted to just one department. Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) evidently realizes this sore need. This truly reflects in established projects and plenty that are still in the pipeline.
Projects in Place to Transform Health
PITB has corroborated with Punjab Health Department on several occasions in the past for the purpose of facilitating the delivery of health to common Pakistanis. Whether it is about overcoming the deadly epidemic of Dengue or successfully implementing vaccination programs, PITB has been upto the task.
At a time when Dengue continued to pile casualties over 350,000 and left many confused and hopeless, PITB established a call center in merely two days. This meant to feature a toll free 24/7 helpline (0800-99000) where people would call for registering complaints and seeking advice with 150 doctors on reception.
Punjab Healthline has registered over 250,000 calls till date
Callers could bring to the attention of these health professionals any health-related issues ranging from sanitation related matters to overcharging of health services by hospitals. The health initiative is still active and has registered over 250,000 calls to date.
Dengue Activity Tracking System
Government of Punjab had all departments under it join forces against Dengue. Members from all major departments were in the field, engaged in activities such as debris removal, larviciding, community awareness and larviciding. However, given the grave situation each filed officer was allocated an Android smartphone. Each of these had access to Edge services and was meant for mobile reporting.
The system used smartphones, GPS, Google Maps and central storage for effective tracking
Officers would snap a geo-tagged picture before and after performing the assigned duty. The entire data stream would be plotted on Google Maps and later stored in the centralized server. More than 1.7 million activities have been performed using this model and it continues with over 1,200 smartphone users.
Disease Surveillance System
In light of the havoc caused by floods and lethal diseases, Government of Punjab turned its attention to establishing systems where historical data could be properly organized. This was extremely important to tackle urgent issues such as detecting disease outbreaks proactively. For this reason, dedicated data operators were designated in District Headquarters, Tehsil Headquarters and Teaching Hospitals. Each of these would have access to a laptop and an internet dongle to detect, register and report cases.
Disease surveillance system has tackled over 6 million cases
Cases are also reported via SMS courtesy of the disease wheels offered to RHCs and BHUs. This avid reporting mechanism has also allowed Measles Control Program and Polio Control Information System to come through. The focus on smartphones has also induced vaccinator tracking in the process. With over 25 departments involved in the operation, the system has tackled more than 6 million cases to date.
Sending out teams to perform tasks is of little use unless the effectiveness and efficiency of the provided service is properly monitored. For this purpose, district supervisory officers (DHO, DDHO, EDO) are provided with Android smartphones and made to reach out to health facilities in their respected locations. Officers report back any issues along the way using the HealthWatch app.
Healthwatch app provides a central way for health officers to report progress
In order to confirm their presence, they are also required to take their own photo along with the relevant data. Managers within GPS accuracy of five meters are able to view this data on a map in real-time. Interestingly, the program began as ‘Monitoring the Monitors’ by Punjab Health Sector Reform Program in Khanewal in 2011 before it came to a standstill due to lack of funds until PITB revived it last year.
Projects in the Pipeline
PITB continues its efforts to digitize health initiatives and has a number of health projects in the works. Polio Control Information System is an attempt to eradicate polio from the province using smart monitoring for worker’s profile management and activities.
Moreover, HospitalWatch offers a framework for monitoring emergencies and PAEDs wards in various healthcare facilities. Plans are also in place for Cardiac Vacancy System for the management of heart patients at well-known healthcare facilities. Finally, Refill Dispensation System will facilitate the automated delivery of free medicine to patients.