mHealth Alliance works to improve tuberculosis care

The mHealth Alliance and Stop TB Partnership are teaming up to prevent Tuberculosis and improve care for those already suffering from the condition, according to a report released this week. The report, The Role of mHealth in the Fight Against Tuberculosis, points to a host of ways to use mobile devices and software, including to: 

Help patients adhere to medication regimens: The report points to a variety of projects that already show that text messages, or other reminders such as automatic call-backs on patients' personal phones can be used to communicate effectively with patients.

The report recommends providing patients with mobile credits or other rewards and incentives to encourage adherence.

A new study coming soon from the University of British Columbia, which we reported on a few months ago, may provide some grist for this particular mill. Researchers there are testing whether SMS/text messaging can help TB patients stick with their drug regimens.

Use mobile GPS locator systems to monitor TB diagnoses and treatment: GPS tracking would help track where patients are being diagnosed and treated, making disease surveillance far faster and less complicated, the researchers say.

Diagnose TB in the field: The report points to apps such as CellScope, which allows clinical workers in the field to take pictures of sputum smear slides with their phones' cameras and send the images to experts for diagnosis.

Educate patients and families about TB: Smartphones SMS-enabled cell phones are perfect vehicles for disseminating prevention, treatment, symptom and other information to at-risk populations--far more effectively than current systems, the report says.

The two groups plan to kick-start their partnership by creating working groups to bring together players in the TB care/prevention arena with developers, providers and others in the mHealth market, the report explains.

"We ... need to link TB projects and those being conducted in the wider mHealth community by involving TB implementers in working groups and networks, so that experience flows both ways," researchers say.

To learn more:
- read the mHealth Alliance/Stop TB Partnership report

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