By Sabyasachi Das, Research Associate – ICTPH
One of the biggest strengths of the SughaVazhvu model lies in its immense knowledge of the communities it works with, specifically in relation to the individual level health status of the population in these communities. This has been made possible through ICTPH’s introduction to the Population Level Screening Package (PLSP). PLSP is a comprehensive (data capturing) template that can be used to collect health data pertaining to all individuals in a given population. The concept and implementation of PLSP has come a long way since its inception at ICTPH, and has gone through many levels of improvisation.
While maintaining that data collection is the important focus, ICTPH also took a conscious decision towards reduction of paperwork both from an economic and environmental point of view. Also considering that data are collected in large volumes, any innovation bringing down the cost and increasing the efficiency of the process, will add tremendous value. This was one of the reasons which actuated ICTPH to move away from the conventional hand-written data collection, and led it to explore alternative and innovative technology solutions/interventions.
Currently, we are in the process of piloting PLSP data collection through Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) technologies (as shown in fig1.) The use of this approach not only reduces the time taken to digitalize field data, but also reduces paper usage and hence proves to be more cost effective. Furthermore, reduction in time spent on data allows the RMHC staff to respond faster to the health needs of their patients. It also minimizes error by eliminating the manual importing of data during digitalization. For all these reasons and more, we are excited to start with the OMR based survey from next week at our Karambayam clinic.
Innovation at ICTPH does not end with OMR technology. We realize that to serve the population better we need to make all our data go completely live. This will considerably reduce the time taken between diagnosis on the field and response from the RMHC. One of the best ways to achieve this is by capturing field PLSP data through the use of mobile application technology, and directly importing the data to a digitized form. We look forward to starting our mobile-based data collection initiative soon.