Sharing how SHOPS Plus uses innovative technology in Nigeria at the Global Digital Health Forum
The SHOPS Plus team in Nigeria have been using innovative technology to achieve a greater impact in the health areas of tuberculosis (TB) and family planning. For example, in 2019 the team launched a new Android application for tuberculosis screening and tracking for accelerated referral and reporting: TB STARR. Since the launch, over 1,700 individuals have download the TB STARR app. In the area of family planning, the team developed audio job aids that have reached over 1,000 providers.
In December 2019 members of the Nigeria SHOPS Plus team presented on these technology-based methods at the 6th Annual Global Digital Health Forum held in Bethesda, Maryland. The theme for the conference was “Celebrating Innovation and Supporting Proven Practices at Scale,” which centered on how emerging technologies can improve health practices and outcomes.
Dr. Bolanle Olusola-Faleye, the technical director of the SHOPS Plus TB program in Nigeria, presented the project’s digital solution to improved TB patient tracking, referral, and diagnosis. The presentation, “User-centered design of TB STARR: A mobile app to advance TB Screening and Tracking for Accelerated Referral and Reporting,” outlined the design of the TB program, the data collection challenges providers often face when using paper-based methods, and the ways in which TB STARR seeks to minimize these challenges by digitizing provider workflows.
The presentation highlighted how providers, the end users of the app, were involved in every step of development to ensure their goals, workflows, tasks, and work environments were taken into account in the design. Dr. Olusola-Faleye also stressed the app’s ability to increase the efficiency of TB case identification and improve both patient and provider experiences. Available on Google Play, TB STARR operationalizes workflows specific to a provider type, and includes functionalities such as TB case referral tracking and sample tracking. The SHOPS Plus team recently piloted TB STARR and received positive feedback about the app’s potential to reduce delays, improve data for program decision-making, and ultimately improve the patient experience.
Last year, the family planning program hosted a workshop with trained family planning providers and trainers to identify knowledge gaps and design audio messages that would reinforce the providers’ in-person training. Paulina Akanet, the quality improvement specialist on the SHOPS Plus family planning program in Nigeria, presented on this process and the result of the intervention during her presentation, “Development and implementation of audio job aids for family planning providers in Nigeria.” Even with training, providers, especially lower-skilled community health extension workers, have difficulty comprehending the highly-technical language in many family planning handbooks and manuals. Therefore, SHOPS Plus developed two complementary audio approaches using audio job aids accessible via basic mobile phones to give providers additional support.
The audio job aids consist of 38 messages on six different content areas that providers can access on-demand. To date, on-demand content on counseling and long-acting methods have been the most popular topics. Providers also receive a series of messages with quizzes that are sent out twice a week by SHOPS Plus. Of the providers receiving messages and attempting quiz questions, 92% choose the correct answer.
These activities demonstrate how SHOPS Plus uses appropriate and innovative technology to facilitate program objectives and achieve health impact