“IeDA can make a difference at primary health care level in many countries”
Terre des hommes (Tdh) is implementing IeDA (Integrated e-Diagnostic Approach) - a tablet-based tool that has helped health personnel diagnose 2.2 million children since 2014 in Burkina Faso. This innovative technology contributes to improve the quality of medical care and saves children's lives. In addition, the included e-learning strengthens the skills of local health workers in rural areas. We met Karl Blanchet, research director of the IeDA project and associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
In which context is IeDA used?
This approach is used in Burkina Faso where child mortality is very high and where we have some evidence, that the quality of care is not good enough. One of the reasons is that the clinical protocols, the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) algorithm, are not respected by healthcare workers. Having IeDA in place that follows these protocols can really save children’s lives.
How is IeDA different from other approaches?
All the users can provide feedback. This is used by Tdh to make quick changes to the tool and is a huge improvement compared to other innovations. It’s very flexible; it responds to the needs and requests from users.
You and your team have conducted a three-year research project to develop and test IeDA. What were the main research topics?
We conducted the IeDA study which combines three different studies. The first one is a quantitative study that looks at the effect of IeDA on the way health workers follow the IMCI protocol. It also analysed if they did correct or incorrect classifications and prescriptions. The second study was a realistic evaluation looking at the effect of the context and IeDA intervention on the management of health centres and team management. We also looked at the acceptance of the innovation by the community and healthcare workers. And finally, we conducted an economic study, where we looked at the cost of implementing, managing and scaling IeDA up to the whole country.
What results were a positive surprise?
We have been very impressed by the effect of IeDA. We saw an improvement of 50% on the way health workers follow the IMCI protocol. The second very important effect is that IeDA has created a different way of working: quality has become the focal point of activities.
What can be achieved with an innovation like IeDA in the future?
IeDA is an innovation that can make a difference at primary health care level in many countries. The more we are going to use it, the more feedback we are going to receive, and I know Tdh is going to make more improvements. This tool helps health personnel make the right decisions and prevent mistakes. It can be applied in various emergency contexts such as refugee camps, but as well in acute phases of armed conflict.
Karl Blanchet, IeDA Research Director
Photo credits: ©Tdh