A medical records app for pregnancies in Indonesia is growing with grants from SIGHT and HAC

Pairs of midwives simulate interaction between mothers and midwives in this workshop the West Bandung Regency in 2016.

A mobile and web-based medical records application with life-saving potential is serving pregnant women and midwives in rural Indonesia. The e-Health and Telemedicine SIGHT in Indonesia is developing the technology with two grants, one from SIGHT administration and another from the Humanitarian Action Committee. The volunteers’ experience exemplifies the opportunity for growth available within SIGHT and IEEE.

In December 2015, the SIGHT administration awarded $16,000 to SIGHT volunteers in Bandung, Indonesia, to fund a small pilot program for their app, Sahabat Bunda, which means “A Mom’s Best Friend.” The pilot included 20 midwives from the School of Midwifery at Universitas Padjadjaran. The technology helped generate and organize medical records for pregnant women and their overworked midwives. The app replaces paper and pen records that patients keep and hand off to midwives during checkup. Midwives in the region are busy tending to several dozen expectant mothers at a time, and the paper records can be lost or ignored in hurried visits.

The app allows mothers and midwives to track pregancies and share knowledge about proper care. For mothers it provides educational messages for each stage of pregnancy, reminders to go to check ups or get vaccinations, and interactive activities for mothers and babies to encourage exercise and health awareness. For midwives, the app offers professional development updates and a database of patient records, scheduling assistance and other functions.

“We spent the first 6-8 months refining the web-based and mobile-based application in close cooperation with the midwifery school,” says Dr. Yoke Irawan a doctor, biomedical engineer and member of the SIGHT leading the project. Miscommunications resulted in delays in obtaining information from midwifery students, but the volunteers have worked to refine the technology nonetheless, Dr. Irawan says.

New features, new users

The scope of the service spans pregnancy up until the child is 5 years old. Now the SIGHT volunteers are expanding the functionality to include family planning. The volunteers also expanded their test user base from 20 to 100 practicing midwives and students.

The growth was supported through partnerships with local health offices and in cooperation with a research project by the Medical Department of Universitas Padjadjaran.

Sharing results

The volunteers have shared their results in academic circles and they presented their project at the IEEE – R10 Humanitarian Technology Conference in 2015, and at IEEE TENCON in 2016.

HAC grant and more

The volunteers won $35,000 from the HAC to refine the software and scale up distribution.

“Refinement will include a more extensive nutrition functionality incorporating locally available and traditional food,” Dr. Yoke says. “Scale-up funding is especially important for geographically expanding the locations for implementation to other cities and provinces in Indonesia. We plan to expand the implementation site to two other cities in West Java and to the Bali province in Indonesia. This has the double benefit of initiating and activating IEEE SIGHT volunteer participation and activities in the new site.”

The team has also applied for another grant that they cannot name publicly, yet. The grant will support the development of primary healthcare and nutrition functions that will include financial literacy for mothers.

“We intend to leverage the existing user base of Sahabat Bundaku also as the initial user base of the new development. This is consistent with the potentially cross-disciplinary and complex nature of improving maternal and child health,” Dr. Yoke says.

Lead investigator Dr. Yoke S. Irawan (second to the left) stands with officials from the West Bandung Regency Health Office at a workshop for Sahabat Bundaku at the West Bandung Regency Health Office in 2016.