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Balancing Low & High Tech Solutions

By Tara Newton, Communications Associate, BID Initiative

Mar 30, 2016

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Data use campaign posters are placed in facilities to encourage health workers to use the data to make evidence-based decisions. Photo: PATH.

Data use campaign posters are placed in facilities to encourage health workers to use the data to make evidence-based decisions. Photo: PATH.

The BID Initiative is not a technology project. From the beginning, we have stressed this important point among our global partners, country governments and with health workers. But why is this so paramount in our approach?

A recent article in Humanosphere touches on the increase in high tech solutions across global health, but discusses the merit in tailoring solutions to your audience. This sometimes means providing low tech techniques.

From using music and dance in Ethiopia to educate youth groups on sexual and reproductive health, to wall-paintings and billboards in India focused on family planning, these low tech approaches have proved to be a more effective way to reach audiences lacking access to media in low-income, rural areas.

At the BID Initiative, we recognized early on the need to customize our solutions for different settings, such as facilities with reliable electricity and facilities without. Furthermore, we knew introducing new high tech products would not be sustainable without coupling it with a suite of low-tech behavioral change techniques.

For example, we partnered with health workers to develop messages and create data-use posters to display in facilities. The posters encourage health workers to use data for better decision making and serve as a reminder around the value of data. Photos on the posters show a more streamlined working environment reducing the burden of record keeping on health workers, allowing them to reach more children. In facilities without electricity, often in rural locations, we are implementing a modified paper-based immunization registry. At the district level, the data from these registries can be entered into the national electronic information system.

It is hard enough to change how you do your job everyday but having to learn new, unfamiliar products can make it even harder. Our User Advisory Groups allow us to first test solutions with a small group of users from all levels of the health system before rolling out to facilities. We have the opportunity to collect feedback and make changes to ensure a smoother transition for health workers.

The Humanosphere article ends with a compelling statement that resonates with our approach to strike a balance between low and high tech solutions– “In designing communication approaches for health programs, the most important thing is to understand your target audiences, and how they receive information.”

To learn more about our holistic approach, see our new infographic.

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