Staff Blog

Staff Blog

“Take a Tablet”: ColaLife talks about using CommCare in Zambia

by Simon Berry (Guest author, CEO of ColaLife)

19 November 2014


The following blog post was originally posted by Dimagi partner and CommCare user ColaLife. You can see the original blog post here. This is the second blog that ColaLife has written about using CommCare. Their first blog about deploying CommCare can be found here. 

From the very beginning of the ColaLife Operational Trial in Zambia (COTZ), field staff of Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF) have been visiting the retailers they’ve trained to provide them with post-training support. If they can’t visit them, they follow-up by phone. All retailers have a phone and most (but not all) will be in areas with mobile phone coverage.

During these visits, field staff check, amongst other things, stock levels of Kit Yamoyo, check that the product is displayed well – off the ground and in a place where customers can see it – and check that a Kit Yamoyo sign is displayed outside the shop. Although these follow-up visits helped ensure the retailers remained engaged and ironed out any problems the retailer may be facing, it was impossible to collate the information gathered. But that has now changed.


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Three Ways to Achieve Economies of Scale in mHealth

by Jonathan Jackson, Dimagi CEO

17 November 2014

Dimagi OverviewOver the last few years, the question of how to achieve mHealth scale has been commonly discussed by the mHealth community as a major concern for the future of mHealth. A lot has been written about the large number of mHealth projects that haven’t achieved scaled, including articles by our own team.

Through our experience at Dimagi, we’ve found that often times mHealth projects aren’t being scaled correctly. Achieving scale is often talked about in terms of expanding the number of mHealth users (“user scale”) following an mHealth project’s demonstration phase.  Furthermore, projects that target a single use case (e.g. maternal health), a single set of users  (e.g. community health workers, or CHWs), and a single organization often aren’t as efficient as projects that leverage technology for multiple use cases, organizations, and sets of users.

Instead of focusing only on achieving user scale or implementing projects that are meant for one specific project, the mHealth community should also be focusing on whether we can achieve economies of scale. Many technologies and projects can achieve scale if sufficient funding is applied. However, if economies of scale are not achieved, this will likely result in a bad investment.

As our projects and footprint grows, we’ve been discussing how to achieve these economies of scale both internally and externally with partners. Based on our experience, we’ve identified three paths to scale that are critical to organizations interested in achieving economies of scale:

Three paths to scale mHealth impact on Make A Gif

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Recap: Dimagi’s first Tech Summit!

by Tyler Sheffels

7 November 2014


Dimagi’s tech team recently had their first off-site ever and wanted to report back some of the findings. The team went for a 3 day long summit from Sept 17th – 19th.  One of the team members was kind enough to host at her family home in Western Massachusetts. It was a great opportunity for the team to bond and also discuss important, higher-level topics that we haven’t had a chance to address back at the office.

Before starting, the whole team spent some time brainstorming topics and dot-voting on which sessions would be most interesting to the group. In this blog, I wanted to touch upon some of those sessions, and what we discussed.

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From a Dimagi intern: Finding ICT4D, and hacking the change at UPenn

by Aliza Stone [UPenn Student, Dimagi Intern, Soon-to-Be Dimagi Developer]

31 October 2014


Just a little over a year ago, I was starting my junior year of college at the University of Pennsylvania, not altogether very far along in my computer science degree, and even less far along in figuring out what I wanted to do with that degree. I knew vaguely that I had a passion for development work, and I also knew that few of my peers in computer science understood what I could possibly mean when I said that I wanted to combine the two. Realistically, I didn’t either; but I muddled along with this vague pie in the sky plan to use my newfound powers with a keyboard to save the world.

What I was looking for, I know now, was ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development), but I didn’t know to call it that yet. Dimagi, of course, lives and operates in that world, where technology and international development cohabitate quite nicely, and where developers get the chance, perhaps not to save the world, but to do their best to make a small corner of it a little better. That was more than enough for me.

I stumbled across Dimagi in as unlikely a way as any, and to my extremely pleasant surprise, found myself with a summer internship as a software engineer at the exact sort of place I had sworn to my parents must exist somewhere. This past summer was an enormous learning experience for me in the best of ways. I had all of the usual lessons of a software development intern, from what it’s like to work on big team with a bigger codebase, to learning new platforms as fast as you possibly can. But then I also got a window into what it means to take technology and apply it to real problems on a large scale across the world. That sort of exposure was more valuable to me than anything.

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Dimagi in Myanmar, and opening borders to mHealth

by Saijai Liangpunsakul, Devika Sarin, & Rushika Shekhar

14 October 2014


In the last year, Myanmar has gone through remarkable changes and the country has started to open up to the world again. Technology restrictions are ending, and in just a year the price of SIMS has dropped from US $120 to US $1.50. According to WHO, Myanmar’s health care system is the second worst in the world with tens of thousands suffering each year from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. More than one third of the population live in rural areas with limited access to healthcare. In a landscape with such poor health indicators and a rapidly developing technology sector, there is huge potential impact for mobile technology interventions.

In order to help organizations explore mHealth possibilities in Myanmar, on September 16th, Dimagi hosted its first workshop on Mobile Technology for Frontline Programs in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon. The workshop brought together over 35 local and international organizations from around Myanmar to discuss best practices, lessons learned, and strategies for implementing mobile technology interventions across different sectors.


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