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Feasibility of Electronic Health Information and Surveillance System (eHISS) for disease symptom monitoring: A case of rural Ghana.

Feasibility of Electronic Health Information and Surveillance System (eHISS) for disease symptom monitoring: A case of rural Ghana.

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Feasibility of Electronic Health Information and Surveillance System (eHISS) for disease symptom monitoring: A case of rural Ghana.

PLoS One. 2018;13(5):e0197756

Authors: Mohammed A, Franke K, Boakye Okyere P, Brinkel J, Bonačić Marinovic A, Kreuels B, Krumkamp R, Fobil J, May J, Owusu-Dabo E

Abstract
INTRODUCTION: The current surge of mobile phone use in many African countries creates the opportunity to provide caregivers with limited access to the health care system with vital health recommendations. At the same time such communication system can be utilised to collect tempero-spatial data on disease symptoms.
OBJECTIVE: We assessed the feasibility of an mHealth system among caregivers with children under-five years, designed as a health information and surveillance tool in a rural district of Ghana.
METHODS: A mobile phone-based electronic health information and surveillance system was piloted from February to December 2015. Toll-free numbers were provided to 1446 caregivers, which they could call to receive health advice in case their children showed disease symptoms. The system was setup to evaluate the illness of a sick child. Symptoms reported via the system were evaluated and compared to clinician's report after follow-up. Cogency of the reported symptoms was assessed using Cohen's kappa coefficient.
RESULTS: A total of 169 children with disease symptoms were identified based on phone calls from caregivers. The predominant reported symptoms were fever (64%; n = 108), cough (55%; n = 93) and diarrhoea (33%; n = 55). Temporal pattern of symptomatic cases revealed a peak saturation in the month of September, with fever registering the highest number of symptoms observed. Reported symptoms and clinician's report revealed a very good agreement for fever (95%, kappa = 0.89); good for diarrhoea (87%, kappa = 0.73) and moderate for cough (76%, kappa = 0.49).
CONCLUSION: This pilot concept, has demonstrated the practicality of using mobile phones for assessing childhood disease symptoms and encouraging caregivers to seek early treatment for their children if needed. The strategy to use mobile phones in disease surveillance and treatment support is a promising strategy especially for areas with limited access to the health care system.

PMID: 29795626 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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