NEW YORK, April 22, 2015 – HelpMeSee, a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness, has successfully tested a pre-release version of its GIS-GPS app for community mobilization. The mobile app, currently for use on Android devices, will allow community health workers to better locate patients, map the incidence of cataract blindness, and connect patients to partner specialists who can provide care. The system can define the geographic market for each clinic location and maintain epidemiologic information on the prevalence of cataract blindness. It will also integrate with the campaign’s surgical reporting system to monitor patients and validate successful outcomes.
“The HelpMeSee GIS-GPS app is an essential tool to provide the best standard of care to every cataract blind person in a community,” said Mohan Jacob Thazhathu, President & CEO of HelpMeSee. “It optimizes the efficiency of the surgical team and provides community health workers a reliable tool for patient care and follow up services.”
HelpMeSee’s campaign team worked in close collaboration with community level surgical teams and village level health workers to test the app in rural India. Health workers found it to be much faster than the systems currently in place, which are largely paper-based. They can now gather essential patient information and location details, including specific GPS coordinates and altitude data, and transmit them to the hospital remotely.
“It used to take us from 1 to 2 days,” said Meera Devi, a community worker living near Chitrakoot, India. “Now with the mobile app, the whole process is completed in 10 – 15 minutes and then we just need to click send.”
Once identified, patients are connected to nearby health facilities where they can receive Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) to remove cataracts and implant a new, artificial lens in their eye. The cost-effective surgery is a foundation of the HelpMeSee MSICS training simulator that is also in development. The app will also facilitate patient care through follow up tracking, allowing community workers to locate patients weeks after surgery to check their health and surgical outcome.
HelpMeSee’s use of this technology worldwide will create the first real time epidemiologic data on cataract blindness. This is critical for eliminating the backlog of blindness caused by cataract through a patient focused campaign and evidence based practice of essential surgery in communities.
Developed in partnership with Clarity.ca, a leading technology development firm based in Calgary, Canada, HelpMeSee’s app is designed for easy use by community workers. The app uses a graphic interface that can be used by any worker, regardless of their language or literacy level.
HelpMeSee is a global campaign to eliminate cataract blindness, the leading cause of preventable blindness globally. Along with the GIS-GPS app, HelpMeSee has developed a virtual reality MSICS training simulator to train cataract specialists as well as a pre-sterilized surgical kit to deliver safe care in remote areas. To date, the campaign has delivered over 190,000 sight-restoring surgeries to patients in India, Nepal, China, Peru, Vietnam, Togo and Sierra Leone.