No longer is the collection of medical data a tedious process that requires expensive software and hired consultants.
It is well known that many developing countries struggle to attain certain drugs and vaccinations that are imperative to the health of its people. It is also well known that PDAs are widely used by doctors (among many other professionals) to seamlessly collect data, and consequently, improve the flow of information through EHR systems and other medical-related programs. It should come as no surprise then that DataDyne, a non-profit consultancy formed in 2003, has taken to creating groundbreaking mobile data products to serve the public health of developing countries. They accomplish this goal by working with “sustainable mobile information technologies, including handheld computers, smartphones, the Internet, and GPS to create sustainable data flow in developing countries, and to break down the barriers to data utilization.”
DataDyne’s premier product is the award-winning EpiSurveyor, a free, open-source software suite used to collect data with handheld computers and smartphones. The program allows users to create data-collection instruments, such as surveys, right to a Windows desktop or laptop computer; use instruments to collect data on a Palm handheld computer; transfer collected data back to the desktop for analysis; develop a library of standard data-collection instruments collected from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), NGO, and translate them into EpiSurveyor format; and train organizations how to use the technology and use good epidemiological techniques for program assessment and other data-dependent tasks.
Prior to the creation of this program, collecting medical data was a tedious process that required expensive software and hired consultants. Joel Selanikio and Rose Donna, the two founders of DataDyne, recognized these barriers and understood that by “creating simple yet powerful software, making it affordable to all, actively disseminating it, and providing technical support,” they would be able to overcome the barriers and make collection of public health data from developing countries a reality. This, in turn, would provide healthcare professionals with a better understanding of these countries’ needs, and be the first step in bettering the healthcare of the people who need it the most.
EpiSurveyor has enjoyed immense success; it has won the World Bank's Development Marketplace competition, and Dr. Selaniko has also been nominated for the Lemelson-MIT Award and the Tech Museum Award. In fact, EpiSurveyor has been so successful that, since 2006, healthcare professionals across Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Senegal, and Sierra Leone are trained to use the program, and it has benefited health departments focused on illnesses such as malaria, HIV/Aids, and measles.
Those who would like to learn more about how Joel Selanikio and Rose Donna are doing their part to improve global health can check out a new report scheduled to be released by the Vodafone Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, scheduled to be released on May 6. The report covers “how advocacy groups active in the areas of global health, environmental conservation, and humanitarian relief are using wireless technology to effect social change.” For more information about DataDyne’s efforts, please visit: