Earlier this week one of my research colleagues sent me a spreadsheet with the breakdown for the last 6 months (Sept 2012 to Feb 2013) of how the health workers in our project have been making use of voice, SMS and data on their smartphones. The breakdown looks like this:
The data shows that each health worker (per month) makes approximately 160 mins of voice calls, downloads 27Mb of data and sends 3 SMSs.
Few notes and comments:
- the data was directly from the mobile company – not from any analysis tools/apps installed on the phones, so is about as accurate as we’d ever be able to get
- in the data above I’ve only included the health extension workers and midwives, the supervisors usage is not included (although we have figures for them too)
- we are giving 100 birr top-up per month to each health worker and we don’t restrict what this can be used for
- for the data it’s clear that the the health workers are adding their own top-up balance too (in addition to the 100 birr we give)
What interesting for us is that the health workers are clearly using the data connection for much more than simply submitting the protocol forms and the accessing the mobile scorecard, although at an average of 27Mb per month, this is a long way from the 500Mb+ per month many people in EU/US often get through.
The very low level of text messaging (less than 3 SMSs sent per month) is also very interesting to see. One possible reason for this (and this also came from our baseline survey interviews) was that the health workers don’t use text messaging because they are not confident in using the Latin alphabet, or perhaps they know the recipient of the message cannot read the Latin alphabet, or doesn’t have a Ge’ez capable phone.
There’s a lot more analysis and info we how we can get from this data – especially when we look at matching up usage of the patient management tools and whether increased usage of these tools also corresponds to increased data usage – but we’ll save much of this for our upcoming technical paper.