Of all the technology solutions available to us today, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are very widely known. It needs no special reiteration that the 21st century is the age of the Information Technology. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have come to have an all-encompassing character with their limitless scope for adaptive applications. In democracies ICT has an enabling role; one that helps catalyse the process of change by making information more accessible and usable to the masses. In the sequence of technological innovations, it could be said that the mobile phone soon followed the Internet. While Internet brought about E-health, the mobile phone ushered in mHealth applications. And very soon mobile phones usurped the Internet in terms of penetration and use. E-health is essentially the application of Internet and other related technologies to improve the access, efficiency and effectiveness of health care. Mobile Health or mHealth could be seen as a significant corollary of e-health and is all about providing health-related services over the mobile communications. That mobile phones outrank the Internet in terms of penetration and use is especially true for the State of Kerala in India. Of the total population of Kerala of 3.1 crores, 2.1 crore people have access to mobile phone. Features like portability and mobility, low cost of operation and short learning curve have served to be key factors behind the high levels of mobile penetration in Kerala. With a view to improve citizens’ access to health care delivery, the Kerala State IT Mission (www.itmission.kerala.gov.in) launched the project in May 2008 in the district of Kozhikode (Calicut) in Kerala. The purpose of the Dr.SMS project is to provide comprehensive information on health-related resources via the short message service (SMS). The choice of Kozhikode was based on the fact that it is the third largest city in Kerala with a population of approximately 20 lakhs. Kozhikode was also chosen for the pilot because it has the highest rates of mobile penetration in the State. Kozhikode also attracts huge migrant population/tourists, who are also one of the main targets of this project. The pilot project met with overwhelming success. The service was especially lapped by the large numbers of tourist population who did not know whom to contact in case of a medical emergency. The pilot phase witnessed around 200 transactions a day, on an average. Backed by a database of health infrastructure in 12 out of 14 districts in the State, the facility can provide timely information on medical facilities available in that locality including contact phone number, specialities and super specialities (Cardiology, Paediatrics, Opthamology), doctors, ambulance services etc. To avail the facility all that the user has to do is to send a SMS to the designated number 9495949000. The message should contain the word ‘health’ followed by the ‘PIN-code’ of the locality for where the information is sought. The service can also provide pointers to blood banks, diagnostic centres, private hospitals, speciality centres, facilities for surgery, ventilators and the like. The Dr.SMS project operates at different levels and can be availed across various media. A message with pin-code and an email ID will generate a detailed email reply to the query. The project also incorporates a health portal, which is available at www.drsms.kerala.gov.in. This portal provides a Web-based information mechanism enabled via the Geographical Information System (GIS). The health centres can be easily located through the portal. The latitudes and longitudes of the health facility centres are also stored in the database. This GIS is regularly supplied with data and helps in providing an interactive map of the health facilities available across the city, how to reach those hospitals listed there. There are facilities available in the portal which can be accessed through the mobile and to fix the location the user is located in the map, or the same can be automatically fixed, if the user is having a GPS enabled mobile phone, this feature allows the user to search medical facility available within a selected radius (5 Kms, 10 Kms, X Kms etc.). Encouraged by the success of the pilot project, the Government took a decision to roll-out the project across all districts of Kerala. The facility has been also integrated with the Short Code (537252 – KERALA in Non Qwerty mobile keypad), opened exclusively for m-services of the State.
• The major achievement of the project is its enshrined ability to deliver health related information to the citizens, including location hospitals, medical centres, facilities and doctors in a time-sensitive manner.
• The project is noted for its cost affordability and effectiveness. To send the message, the customer has to pay a nominal amount of 40 paise or less. The cost of the return SMS is borne by the Government of Kerala.
• The service has come to be seen as a first aid kit for any health emergency for the large number of tourists who are on the move in the town and are not aware of the whereabouts of the place.
• The project has helped hospital authorities prepare the emergency room as per the requirements as well as to mobilise the resources like specialist doctors and specialised equipment to take care of the emergency.
What we deliver?
The Dr.SMS project provides health-related information in the following formats: Format
1. Input – Health- Example – Health 673004 heart Output –
– Example – Baby Memorial Hospital, Indira Gandhi Road, Calicut, Tel: 04952723270, Fax: 495723484
2. Input – Health – Example – Health BABY Output – Hospital phone No> – Example Tel: 04952723270, Heart, eye, Child, skin Facilities available
3. Input – Health – Example – Health BABY eye Output – – Example – Tel: 04952723270, Eye Facility Available
Why is the project unique?
The uniqueness of the project lies that in the fact that a dominant technology solution is used to deliver information on a sector that is of vital importance to human well-being.
Dr.Rathan U.Kelkar IAS
Kerala State IT Mission
ICT Campus, Vellayambalam, Trivandrum, Kerala – 695033, India.
URL : http://www.itmission.kerala.gov.in/