Background: The prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV requires innovative solutions. Although routine monitoring is effective in some areas, standardized and easy-to-scale solutions to identify and monitor pregnant women, test them for HIV, and treat them and their children is still lacking. Mobile health (mHealth) offers opportunities for surveillance and reporting in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries.
Objective: The aim of this study was to document the preliminary impacts of the Tanzania Health Information Technology (T-HIT) system mHealth intervention aimed at health workers for PMTCT care delivery and capacity building in a rural area of Tanzania.
Methods: We developed T-HIT as a tablet-based system for an electronic data collection system designed to capture and report PMTCT data during antenatal, delivery, and postnatal visits in Misungwi, Tanzania. T-HIT was tested by health workers in a pilot randomized trial comparing seven sites using T-HIT assigned at random to seven control sites; all sites maintained standard paper record-keeping during the pilot intervention period. We compared numbers of antenatal visits, number of HIV tests administered, and women testing positive across all sites.
Results: Health workers recorded data from antenatal visits for 1530 women; of these, 695 (45.42%) were tested for HIV and 3.59% (55/1530) tested positive. Health workers were unable to conduct an HIV test for 103 women (6.73%, 103/1530) because of lack of reagent, which is not captured on paper logs. There was no difference in the activity level for testing when comparing sites T-HIT to non-T-HIT sites. We observed a significant postintervention increase in the numbers of women testing positive for HIV compared with the preintervention period (P=.04), but this was likely not attributable to the T-HIT system.
Conclusions: T-HIT had a high degree of acceptability and feasibility and is perceived as useful by health workers, who documented more antenatal visits during the pilot intervention compared with a traditional system of paper logs, suggesting potential for improvements in antenatal care for women at risk for HIV.
Keywords: HIV; decision aids; healthcare workers; mHealth.
©Sheana Bull, Deborah SK Thomas, Elias C Nyanza, Sospatro E Ngallaba. Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 15.01.2018.