Home page of Project THIRRA, a PANACeA project. Funded by IDRC.

Project Title:

Portable System for Telehealth and Health Informatics in Rural & Remote Areas

Leader : 1. PCDOM - Jason Tan (Malaysia)
Partner : 2. SRLHT - Dr. Palitha Gunawardena (Sri Lanka)
Partner : 3. HealthNet Nepal - Dr. Mohan Raj Pradhan (Nepal)
Partner : 4. ICDDR,B - Mohd. Farhad Hussain (Bangladesh)
Mentor : Dr. Shariq Khoja

Estimated duration:
Phase Activities Duration
1 Needs Assessment 6 months
2 Development/preparation 6 months
3 Testing 12 months
4 Evaluation and completion 6 months

General Objective:

To empower the health care providers in the rural and remote areas, to give quality health care services, by having access to timely and sufficient health information using mobile technologies.

Specific Objectives:

1. Provide comprehensive patient medical records to the front line health care providers
2. Empower health care providers to provide quality health care in rural and remote areas, by providing timely health information to the front line health care providers
3. Demonstrate to the policy makers cost-effective ways to bring quality health care to the people in the remote and rural areas using mobile technologies.

Developing countries such as Malaysia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, face the following impediments to providing quality health care to the rural and remote populations are:
1. Lack of professional health care providers
2. Limited or no access to comprehensive patient medical records in remote and rural areas
3. Lack of access to health information at the point of care

The intervention that this research will be introduced is an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system and access to health information using pervasive mobile technologies. There are satellite based systems but these are very costly to deploy and operate. Alternative solutions using Short Message Service (SMS) are too rudimentary to be useful and are not user friendly.

This research will use a web based open source EMR system as the foundation and customise it to use Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) to deliver the application to the health care providers. WAP v2.0 includes the capabilities to transmit data over TCP/IP besides the standard WDP. The test would be conducted in the three above-mentioned countries. It consists of an EMR system hosted by a single server at remote clinic and the health care providers will use contemporary mobile devices such as smartphones and PDAs to access it. The test would use narrowband in a rural and remote setting, although it would work equally well using broadband.

The project is designed to be replicated beyond the research countries, as a cost effective solution for nations that do not have extensive broadband coverage (such as 3G networks). It rides upon the convergence of the latest ICT technologies - utilising the ubiquitous smartphones, which is affordable, making it viable even in the poor countries.