RGICD to launch mobile app to strengthen DOTS programme
Technology has been an indispensable part of human existence. It has brought about a revolution in every other field and healthcare is no exception. Among the various existing diseases, tuberculosis (TB) which at one point of time was considered among the dreaded diseases is now a curable disease. Thanks all to the technological advancement. Making the treatment procedure for TB more easier and convenient for the patients and their families, government run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) based in Bangalore is planning to come up with a mobile application for smart phones which will be used to alert patients about their day to take their dose of medicine, sputum examination day and recording their treatment status. Following which the status will be send to the patients regularly.
This step by RGICD is aimed at strengthening the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short-course) programme for treatment of TB. The WHO-recommended DOTS strategy was launched formally as Revised National TB Control programme in India in 1997 after pilot testing from 1993-1996. Since then DOTS has been widely advocated and successfully applied. RGICD is also in talks with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the project and a formal proposal has already been sent to the Ministry. Once we get the nod from the Ministry and the resources to run the programme, the first plan is to come up with a monitoring centre at RGICD premises. Dr Sashidhar Buggi, Director of RGICD said: “The moblie application software will be developed by a city based private software company. We have already had a meeting with the company and have discussed about the requirements and how to go about with the project.”
Currently almost every other patient owns a mobile phone. The app will be designed in such a way that once it is implemented, each and every patient will get an alert message in their mobile phone about their day to take their dose of medicine, sputum examination day and their treatment status which will be recorded and will be send to them regularly. “Annually at RGICD we get about 2000 new suspected cases of TB coming in for sputum test. One of the major problem we have been facing in treatment of TB cases is the non-compliance and non-adherence to full course of treatment. This in turn results in drug resistant TB. If a patient is detected in the first stage of TB and if they undergo the DOTS treatment for six months then they can be cured. So with this new mobile app which we are planning to come up with will help us keep a track of the patients and reduce the number of drop-out rate” said Dr Buggi.
At the centre which will be housed at RGICD premises, the data entry operators who will be trained to keep a track of the datas will be uploading it at regular intervals. Accordingly an alert message will be sent to the patient who are registered for DOTS. Meanwhile, this data will be further sent to the Health Department as well. Once implemented, this will become a pilot project and if it turns to be a successful one it can be replicated across the country and can also be implemented for other diseases as well.