Maharashtra: App-Based System To Spot Disease Outbreak Early On

PUNE: A smartphone application-enabled health information system was rolled out in Maharashtra on Monday to pick up early warning signs of disease outbreaks in near-real time.
The Union governmentbacked project will cover patients in the rural areas in the initial phase.

The launch of the system was preceded by a training programme, involving more than 10,000 health workers, medical officers, pharmacists and lab-technicians. They were trained in using the electronic module, called Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP). Maharashtra is the ninth state to launch the IHIP.

“Under IHIP, paper- and software-based disease data collection system has been transformed into cellphone or electronic device-enabled data collection system,” state surveillance officer Pradip Awate told TOI. Awate is heading IHIP implementation in the state.

Besides providing near-real-time surveillance data of suspected cases in the community, the new system also enables geo-tagging of disease outbreak-prone areas. “It also provides quicker analysis by collating case data in a given area in a time-frame,” Awate said.

The new module aims at seamlessly integrating various health programmes. “Previously, there were different softwares and apps for different programmes. With the launch of the IHIP, it will bring all health programmes on one platform,” he said.

The integration of the new module has some teething problems to overcome. There are challenges of vacancies of data entry operators, medical officers and pharmacists, besides laboratory technicians, at state-run hospitals in the rural parts. Vacancies also plague subcentres, primary health centres, rural, district and civil hospitals.

“Our short-term goal is to register only the data of patients being screened or treated in the rural parts of the state. In long term, municipal corporations will also be brought under the new module” Awate said, adding that the first objective was to create master data.

“Data from all our health institutions should be registered on this platform. All details of officers concerned, including medical officers, should also be entered into it,” Awate said.

Since a lot of data need to be uploaded on the systems, it would call for many data entry-operators. “We will have to fill in details of each and every person we are dealing with. So, naturally it will take some time. The data entry task will become easier, once majority of the population is registered under the diseasesurveillance,” Awate said.

“We will not have to key in information again in future once the personal details of most people are uploaded in the system. Putting an additional information about a person’s current health concern will take less than a minute,” Awate added.

Activists, however, highlighted the huge number of vacancies at state-run health units as a major obstacle in the execution of IHIP in the state. “Unless the vacancies are filled, the module will not serve any purpose,” health activist Sanjay Dabhade said.-Times Of India

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