Ebola Response

CommCare for Ebola Response

In West Africa, CommCare is being used to improve core infectious disease response roles in the Ebola epidemic and in future disease outbreaks

These areas include adherence to screening and triage protocols, sensitization and information dissemination, surveillance and contact tracing, diagnostics and lab tracking, stock tracking, and patient self-reporting.

Even as affected countries move beyond the Ebola epidemic, CommCare enables implemented programs to shift focus to other health and development areas. These areas include livelihoods, infectious disease surveillance, maternal and child health, diagnostics and lab tracking, and core responsibilities of frontline workers that are supported by CommCare.

Surveillance and Contact Tracing

Controlling outbreaks requires identifying suspected cases before they can expose other people.

  • Frontline workers can use CommCare to identify contacts and follow up with them over time
  • Patients can be easily tracked across multiple visits thanks to registration modules
  • In-app background validations and calculations automatically notify frontline workers when a contact needs to be followed up with, or can be declared safe after 21 days
  • Application checklists and questions prompt frontline workers to check for all possible symptoms
  • Patient records can be automatically sent to health facilities for up to date incidence reports

Sensitization and Information Dissemination

Lack of communication can lead to inappropriate handling of patients or unwillingness to cooperate with frontline workers.

  • Multimedia-enabled behavior change messaging engages families about safe health practices
  • CommCare enables new information and materials to be pushed out to a remote workforce
  • CommCare provides interactive, standardized, and trusted instructions on proper burial methods, detecting symptoms, when to go to health centers, and basic infection control measures

Adherence to Screening and Triage Protocols

Knowledge of and best practices for handling cases and treatment change rapidly, with changing protocols burdening frontline work forces to quickly adapt for safety.

  • CommCare enables new or adapted protocols to be pushed out to remote workforces
  • Separate forms ensure that workers follow specific workflows in order to be able to enter ETUs
  • Case management enables workers to identify patients previously seen for efficient triage

Diagnostics and Lab Tracking

During outbreaks, labs are established hastily and results to patients are delayed.

  • CommCare data entered at the lab site will be automatically uploaded as soon as a connection is available
  • CommCare enables different authorization levels, for personnel to access data on a web-based platform to consult results in real time and to upload new test results
  • CommCare supports user-configurable reports that can be exported via CSV or to third party analytics software such as Tableau via APIs
  • Test results can be automatically sent via SMS from the central database to recipients
  • CommCare is compatible with QR code readers, and can be configured to receive data from laboratory and point-of-care devices with digital outputs via APIs

Stock Tracking

Supplies are constantly being used without consistent, timely, and accurate ways to ensure that they are always available when they are needed.

  • CommCare applications enable programs and frontline workers to track stock and make predictions for future needs
  • SMS interactions enable predictions of stock outs to be reported before they occur in low-connectivity areas
  • Diagnostics supplies can be tracked via CommCare to improve supply chain management

Patient Self-Reporting

Community members may not be engaged in Ebola response or information-sharing.

  • CommCare data entered at the lab site will be automatically uploaded as soon as a connection is availableCommCare apps are interactive outlets that can facilitate discussions about Ebola among the community and encourage more open conversation about disease recognition and prevention
  • Patients can communicate with programs and health centers via bidirectional SMS powered by CommCare

Ebola Response Template Applications on the CommCare Exchange

Dimagi has committed to offering free CommCare licenses from November 2014 through December 2016 for Ebola response-specific projects. In February 2015, USAID nominated Dimagi for the Fighting Ebola: a Grand Challenge for Development award, for the Information Communication Technology Solutions category together with Intrahealth. This has enabled Dimagi to provide additional CommCare app building and implementation support.

As part of this work, Dimagi is developing a collection of ready-to-use or customize apps for quick deployment in Ebola response. These apps can be tailored to other outbreaks or crises and can be easily added to existing CommCare deployments. Templates include:

  • Contact Tracing (Existing)
  • Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) Decommissioning (In development)
  • Psychosocial Support (In development)


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