Digital health: 5 innovative projects

Health and digital are two words we do not necessarily associate. But we should! Why? Because the use of digital technologies in the field of health can considerably increase the impact on populations, while reducing costs. During this Digital Health Week, discover five Terre des hommes projects that integrate digital technology and innovation so that more and more children have access to quality care.

A digital application to improve medical diagnosis...

"Before, when a mother came in with a child who was coughing, we would just look at the cough. But with the IeDA project, we assess the child in a global way. And we find that we can identify other symptoms. We have managed to save many lives thanks to this procedure," says Benoît Lankoande, head nurse at the Gomposom health centre in Burkina Faso.

IeDA is a digital tablet application that accompanies health workers in consultations with children under five. This improves the quality of diagnoses as well as the prescription of medicines for children. Since its launch in 2010, over 13 million consultations have been guided by IeDA in Burkina Faso, but also in Mali, Niger and India.

... and pregnancy monitoring

For mothers and babies alike, birth is a critical and potentially life-threatening time. "Today, nearly half of all children worldwide who die at birth or in the first days of life. We need to focus our efforts on delivery and first aid for the baby, and also work upstream on the health of mothers, because it is very much linked to that of the baby," says Riccardo Lampariello, head of the health programme at Terre des hommes.

Our teams have developed an extension to the IeDA application that assists medical staff in monitoring women and children during pregnancy, at delivery and after birth. This tool is used in Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Identifying the symptoms of COVID-19

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a functionality was added to the IeDA tool to identify patients potentially infected with the virus and separate them from others. The digital tool also provides online training and guidance for health care workers. By 2020, 1430 health centres in Burkina Faso and India have been equipped with the tool.

"I appreciate the COVID-19 measurements that are taken at the entrance of the health centre with the new digital method. This is the disease that everyone is talking about at the moment, so I was reassured," says Balguissa*, 25, whose child was treated at a health centre in Burkina Faso.

A stethoscope guided by artificial intelligence

Diagnosing pneumonia with a cheap stethoscope and without the need for advanced medical knowledge? This is the goal of the Pneumoscope, an intelligent stethoscope that facilitates the diagnosis of respiratory diseases thanks to artificial intelligence! When placed on a patient's chest, the stethoscope records and analyses sounds, detects clinical signs, and helps diagnose and prescribe medication. It can also detect COVID-19 in infected patients.

This small revolution has been developed thanks to a partnership between the scientific and humanitarian worlds, notably with the HUG, the EPFL and Terre des hommes. The Pneumoscope is currently at the centre of clinical research with promising results.

Artificial intelligence for children's health

In Burkina Faso, we are using artificial intelligence to provide continuous training tailored to each health worker. Thanks to its large database, the IeDA tool is able to identify recurrent errors by staff consulting children and proposes messages or additional training modules on these subjects. For example, if a nurse consistently makes mistakes when measuring children's height or weight, the application will offer online training on how to do so.

Artificial intelligence is also used to predict in real time where outbreaks are likely to occur and how they will spread. This then allows the Ministry of Health to react immediately.

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