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IT Tools to Improve Health in Rural Andhra Pradesh, India

The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) has developed information technology tools to monitor and improve the health of rural disadvantaged communities in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The tools, developed using open-source software, were deployed to gather detailed household-level annual health-related information.

According to a statement by the Institute, the tools are also used to make an objective assessment of the impact of medical treatment and dietary advice on priority health issues. This will enhance an optimal rural healthcare plan based on treatment efficacy and expenses.

The team will develop a mobile application to digitise the process and better analysis. Also, it will spread awareness around the use of mobile applications with the support of local youth volunteers. The Grameen Ayurveda mobile application is an Android-based smart manager of a person’s total health programme. The application provides online doctor appointments, maintains patent data digitally, and it will help to track patient health status and treatment records. It takes care of the follow-up routine of patients, and patients are reminded for routine re-check if required.

The project collects information from the residents of E. Paaguttapalli SC and the adjoining hamlets of Pakaja and Pulicherla mandals. It will help assess the impact of medical treatment and provide dietary advice. The tool is expected to benefit around 100 disadvantaged families, consisting of five or six members. A team of doctors from the S.V. College of Ayurveda visits the villages every two months and helps implement the project.

Earlier, the diet of the residents consisted of millets, plenty of milk products, fish, and other aquatic meat. However, their current diet is dry and poor, devoid of pulses, milk products, and meat, resulting in severe anaemia in women and children. Since the implementation of the project, the symptoms have been alleviated. IIT-Madras has also been organising live interactions on alternate months with special lectures on improving health. A detailed baseline survey and mapping of health status and expenses using IT tools was undertaken.

The project was intended to address priority health issues through medical treatment and dietary advice and its monitoring using IT tools. A post-intervention survey and mapping of health status and health expenses were also done, a representative from the team explained. Apart from the tools, the team plans to initiate a customised drug discovery on par with specific diseases like anaemia and weakness, regularly organise and monitor the patients as part of medical camps and encourage them to adopting healthy habits, and investigate specific disease-based parameters and evaluate them for further medications and treatments.

The government has been pushing to digitally transform the country’s healthcare sector. It launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) in 2020 for this purpose. It is a national-level digital health ecosystem that intends to support universal health coverage (UHC), through the provision of big data and infrastructure services, and by leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems. ABDM will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals and other health facilities across the country with each other. The digital ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like teleconsultation and paperless health records.

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