URC works with ministries of health, civil society, and the private sector to harness the full potential of digital technologies for improved health outcomes and better decision-making. URC envisions a world where digital technologies are used equitably to improve disease surveillance, extend the reach of health services, support health workers, and build healthier communities.
Digital health can raise the quality and availability of health care and empower consumers to advocate for improved care. Investments in building local capacity in digital health are essential as partner countries strengthen their health sectors for long-term sustainability.
Our projects have utilized digital health technologies to accelerate progress against combating infectious diseases worldwide from the forests of the Greater Mekong Delta to warehouses in Central America. Digital innovations have made and continue to make a difference.
In support of community-based drug rehabilitation (CBDR) efforts for the USAID RenewHealth project, the Philippines Ministry of Health and URC worked together to build and launch the CBDR Portal. This powerful website serves as a hub for CBDR content, tools, services, and other related resources. It is part of a set of online and digital solutions to augment and help rehabilitation. The website houses a learning management system for community facilitators/coaches and a CBDR information management system for local government units.
In the era of COVID-19, mobile phones are one of the few reliable tools available to health professionals to reach individuals facing mental health challenges while confined to their homes. The RenewHealth Project – in collaboration with the Philippine Department of Health – successfully launched the first ever mobile application to support Filipinos’ mental health needs. The app is available in both English and Filipino.
The USAID Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services in East Central Uganda (RHITES-EC) Activity supports Uganda’s Ministry of Health improve regional health outcomes by increasing the use of high-quality health care services in East Central Uganda. RHITES-EC used open-source software to create cloud-based and custom-designed tools to capture, process, and analyze relevant and real-time data from resource-constrained environments using Android phones. For example, the electronic Results Dispatch module was utilized to improve turn-around times for lab results, which enabled same-day access to viral load (VL) test results, decreasing turn-around times for testing. Also, in collaboration with Ministry of Health/National Health Laboratory Service, a Viral Load Health Information Exchange platform was rolled out at priority antiretroviral therapy sites to ensure real-time access to VL test results by clinicians.
To ensure the continuity of service provision during COVID-19 lockdowns, RHITES-EC continued provision of technical support and performance meetings with field teams using virtual platforms (Zoom, WhatsApp). Key population peer educators were supported to create demand for HIV prevention services, conduct health education, provide adherence support and counseling to peers using phone calls, SMS texts, and WhatsApp.
The USAID Defeat TB Activity partners with the Uganda government, civil society organizations, and the private sector using evidence-based approaches to increase TB case notification and detection and strengthen the health system to improve treatment outcomes. The project utilizes innovative approaches including GIS mapping using Q-GIS to identify areas with high TB burdens to inform case finding efforts.
The USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project supported health systems in 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries affected by the Zika virus. The project developed and launched a Zika tele-mentoring program to improve health professional capacity to provide clinical care and support for Zika-affected children. The program, Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes (ECHO), allows clinicians to access otherwise unavailable knowledge and support. ASSIST partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics and arranged for the Universidad de la República in Uruguay to conduct the ECHO training. Given the need to train large numbers of health workers on prevention and management of Zika, the project developed several virtual courses in Spanish on Zika.
Through the CDC Strengthening Local Capacity to Deliver Sustainable Quality-Assured Universal Coverage of Clinical Services in Lubombo Region, and Provide Central Level Technical Assistance to the Eswatini National AIDS Program (ENAP) in the Kingdom of Eswatini Project, URC worked to ensure that rapid, accurate HIV diagnostic services are available across Lesotho. The project introduced an eReporting and SMS notification tool to more than 200 health centers. In one health center, notification time decreased from 84 to 43 days in less than one year with consistent use of the eReporting tool.