Background

Across the globe, mobile phone technologies are proving to be a key tool for those working for social change. Africa is cited as the fastest growing mobile phone network in the world and South Africa in particular has mobile phones in the hands of over 80% of the population.

Further studies are beginning to demonstrate the positive impact that mobile phones can have on economic development and social capital. Within the health sector, studies are beginning to indicate that mobile phone technologies are enabling greater efficiency and access to services. Mobile phones are continuing to spread across the continent in unanticipated ways.

About TxtAlert

TxtAlert is a mobile technology tool developed by Praekelt Foundation. It sends automated, personalized SMS reminders to patients on chronic medication. Apart from notifying patients of their upcoming appointments, TxtAlert also allows patients to reschedule their appointments if they are unable to attend, or if they've missed an appointment. The utilization of a "Please Call Me"- message system ensures that a patient can be in contact with the clinic / doctor to reschedule a missed appointment, even if they do not have any airtime available to call. Once a "Please Call Me"-message is received from a patient, a TxtAlert administrator will phone back the patient and assist them to confirm or reschedule an appointment.

Objectives

TxtAlert aims to support both patients and staff at health facilities. The primary objectives of this mobile technology tool are to:

  • Decrease the number of clinic appointments missed
  • Decrease the number of patients who discontinue treatment, and as a result, become resistant to their medications
  • Increase communication exchange between the patient and the clinic. (Patients can communicate with the clinic using "Please Call Me"-messages, which they can send free of charge.)
  • Streamline clinic / hospital administration and the flow of patients through large treatment sites
  • Keep record of past appointments attended vs. missed, in an attempt to flag patients who are at risk of defaulting or missing an upcoming appointment

Start Utilizing TxtAlert

Even though TxtAlert has exclusively been used for more than two years to send ART-reminders (Antiretroviral Treatment), it can also be used to send any other medium or long-term treatment reminders to patients. Praekelt Foundation is working with various partners to introduce a TB (Tuberculosis) as well as a PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) - messaging protocol for TxtAlert. We are also working towards a "TxtAlert Corporate" package where the system can be integrated into a company's Employee Wellness / internal ART-management programme to support their staff who are on ART or TB-treatment.

In essence, TxtAlert needs to integrate with any electronic medical record system, from which a patient's appointment data can be extracted. Apart from minimal set-up and installation costs, TxtAlert's main running costs involve the SMS costs

TxtAlert Open Source

TxtAlert is an Open Source project. The code is available for download on Github. There is an installation guide and API documentation to help you get started. Please contact Praekelt Foundation at txtalert-dev@praekeltfoundation.org for more information on deploying and using TxtAlert.