For example, in work on android based vaccinator tracking in Pakistan, the first version simply required users to open the app and push a button once a day to send their geographic location. As users became more comfortable using the software it was possible to add more features to gather more detailed data on vaccinator activities. Bombarding users with complexities in the first version would have caused significant compliance issues.
3. Anticipate how the tech will operate for end users in day-to-day work
Every tech intervention requires systems and procedures to complement the implementation of the tech. Carefully examining how the technology will operate in the field throughout development can identify problems before they cause issues in the messy environment of real-world implementation. For example, applications which collect patient data but take time to input can inadvertently increase patient wait-times and reduce clinic effectiveness, or applications which require constant remote database access may fail at scale where mobile data coverage is patchy.
4. Consider complementary non-tech solutions
Complementary non-tech solutions will often be the best strategy to increase impact. Throughout the design, there are likely to be many obstacles which technology could solve, however it’s important to consider other realities such as the time, cost and complexity when deciding how best to solve them. For example, often paper based visuals can be more powerful than dashboards in environments where internet speeds are slow or logbooks can be used for more effective data validation than tech systems.
About the Authors
Emma Hannay is Director of Health at Acasus and has extensive experience working on public health projects in developing countries. Fenton Whelan founded Acasus and has more than a decade of experience in public health and education development.