Mobile Phone Support for Rural Health Workers in Nepal through 'Celemedicine'.

JNMA; journal of the Nepal Medical Association

PubMedID: 24907968

Morrison J, Shrestha NR, Hayes B, Zimmerman M. Mobile Phone Support for Rural Health Workers in Nepal through 'Celemedicine'. JNMA J Nepal Med Assoc. 2014;52(191):538-42.
Globally, there is a shortage of health workers in rural areas. Effective health systems depend on having sufficient, accessible health workers with the right skills. In countries like Nepal, highly skilled health workers often prefer to work overseas or in urban centres, and therefore, in the short term, it may be pragmatic to focus on ensuring support and skills development of mid level or paramedical health workers. Information technology has the potential to support these health workers. We describe a pilot intervention undertaken in Gulmi District, whereby all mid level health workers in the district have been provided with a free phone number to call three General Practitioner Doctors (GPs) in the District Hospital. The intervention aims to increase appropriate referral, and increase connectivity between the District centre and peripheral health facilities. We hope that our intervention will provide support to rural health workers, and, if implemented as part of a package of interventions, may increase retention. We present some initial findings from discussions with health workers and analysis of call-log data, and describe our next phase evaluation and possible scale-up. Keywords: human resources; mobile phone; mhealth; Nepal; retention; rural.