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How do AppLab Programs Get Started?

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Ghana ICT4D ICTI MOTECH Uganda
Posted on October 28, 2009

Tim Wood is Director, Mobile Health Innovation, at Grameen Foundation Ghana.

How do AppLab programs get started?  How do you really understand the best way to address the problems that people in poor rural communities face?  The approach we have consistently taken for AppLab projects is to conduct a broad “needs assessment” survey at the very outset of the project.  We work with experts in ethnographic research who spend hours and hours interviewing people in the field.  The end result is qualitative data which helps to guide and inform our project work.

Sometimes, the findings validate our initial assumptions – other times they can be quite surprising.  For example, when we went to ask people in Uganda what their current sources are for information, we learned that there was no word in the local languages that corresponded to “information” – there was a notion of “knowledge” or “advice”, but not “data”.  Our MoTeCH project in Ghana originally called for simply sending pregnant women messages via SMS.  Our needs assessment research identified the importance of using voice to deliver messages as well as the role that men play in access to mobile phones and health services.  As a result, we now consider “pregnant parents” as our target audience and are specifically tailoring some of our messages to address men.  While we will be providing message content in both SMS and pre-recorded voice, our expectations are that voice will be the most popular delivery mechanism.

To read the full mHealth Ethnography Report, click here and download the PDF. This report was prepared for The Grameen Foundation by Patricia N. Mechal and The Dodowa Health Research Center in August 2009.

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