Frequently asked questions
About the project
Who is behind this project?
The project comprises ten partners from seven different countries.
The consortium is a partnership of leaders in complementary fields of expertise, from clinical expertise to software development skills. The partners are:
Who will be the main point of contact for any enquiries after the project end?
How will this project continue?
We would like to seek further funding from external sources to continue this work, as long as it fits with the goals of the Malawian Ministry of Health. This would aim to use an ‘App’ or tools to seamlessly integrate the work of Health Surveillance Assistants with the overall health care infrastructure. This could include allowing HSAs to use the Supporting Life App as a standalone or their only tool for under five care.
Using the App
Do I need network connection to use the app?
Network connection is not required to use the app. Assessments can be completed offline, but the syncing function requires a network connection.
How much does it cost to use the app?
The App is freely available at www.supportinglife.eu. It was developed for use on Android devices with OS 3.0
Honeycomb or above.
How do I access patient records that I have created with the app?
What type of phone do I need to use this app?
The SL App requires an android-based smartphone with the following minimum specifications; Screen: 4.5 inches; Processing: Quad-core processor; ROM: 4 Gigabytes; RAM: 1 Gigabyte
Is prior experience with smartphone technology necessary in order to use the app?
During our field trials, all participating HSAs were able to successfully operate the smartphone and SL App within just a few weeks of receiving the device. HSAs received a half-day training on phone operation and 1.5 day training on how to use the SL App.
What is the breath counter, and how do I use it?
Measuring breathing rate is the only vital sign that HSAs are required to measure to assess sick children under 5 years. The SL breath counter is a breathing rate tool embedded within the SL App. During assessment of a child, the breath counter is selected by pressing the lung icon next to the relevant assessment item.
The HSA is required to tap the screen in time with each observed inhalation. After the selected time period has elapsed, the number of breaths a child has taken is visually displayed, automatically populated in the relevant field and used by the clinical decision rule to compute illness classification and treatment recommendations.
How is data uploaded and synced?
Syncing data with the SL App requires an internet connection. Once connected, syncing is easy. Select the “Sync” button in the navigation menu, and you will see the number of unsynced patient visits that are stored in the phone. Simply tap “Sync Now” and wait until the patient visit counter drops to 0.
What problem do you aim to solve?
How is this app better than paper-based CCM?
Although we need more projects like Supporting LIFE to provide a bullet-proof answer to this question, preliminary results from both a feasibility study and clinical trials which involved over 100 HSAs suggest that eCCM has the following advantages compared to the paper-based version:
How is your app better than / different from similar ones?
How could this app be used for disease surveillance?
Currently each HSA fills out their monthly report from their Village Clinic Register, which takes a lot of time to complete, and then to enter into the DHIS system at District level. The SL App could allow this process to be automatic, in other words the HSAs’ daily data on how many children they have seen and for what purpose, would be uploaded automatically and integrated centrally. This could provide real time surveillance data
and facilitate use of this data by the MoH, for example tracking outbreaks.
Why anyone should use the App
Can the app measure vital signs like heart rate, respiration rate or body temperature?
Currently breathing rate is the only vital sign that HSAs are required to measure, in order to assess if a child may have pneumonia. Therefore, we have integrated a breath counter that helps HSAs measure respiration rate simply using your eyes and taps of your finger (instead of a sensor). We did not add other vital signs sensors, e.g. for temperature or oxygen level at this time, as we did not identify devices that were robust enough or cheap enough for the field. Vital sign devices can be integrated in future versions of the app if this becomes a major need of HSAs.
Can the app help track drug supply?
It would be possible for the app to automatically track use of medications by HSAs, and automatically upload this usage data (along with disease surveillance) centrally. This could provide a way for the MOH to track medication use and facilitate supply chain.