Keeping life-saving medicine in stock with SMS technology | ITworldPosted: June 6, 2012
The SMS for Life system consists of an SMS management tool and a Web-based reporting tool. The SMS application stores a single registered mobile telephone number for one healthcare worker at each health facility. Once a week, the system automatically sends an SMS message to each of those telephone numbers and asks for a report of the current stock of antimalarial drugs at the facility. Each healthcare worker sends a message back to report inventory levels, using a short code number so that the message is sent free of charge.
A standard message format is used to capture stock quantities, with formatting errors handled through follow-up automated SMS messages to a facility. Using the Web-based reporting tool, the data captured from the SMS stock-count messages are collected and stored centrally on a secure website that requires a unique user ID and password for access.
The website provides current and historical data on stock levels of antimalarial medicines and malaria rapid diagnostic tests at the health facility and district levels. It also incorporates Google mapping of district health facilities, with stock level overlays and stockout alerts, SMS messaging statistics and usage statistics. Statistical tools can be used to provide early warnings of malaria outbreaks.
SMS for Life’s effectiveness has been impressive. It has given healthcare workers visibility into antimalarial stock levels and has led to more efficient stock management.
The program, which was piloted in 2010, is being rolled out across Tanzania and is moving to other African countries, where it is expected to save hundreds of lives every day.