The Rapid growth of mobile phone technology, particularly in rural areas in developing Asia, presents new and exciting opportunities for programme monitoring and surveillance. Through Rapid Asia’s mobile phone panel (m-panel®), programme KPIs can be monitored with a stronger link to real outcomes and with the added benefit of increased community ownership and involvement.
Rapid Asia’s m-panel is a proven system that offers a simple solution with focus on cost effectiveness and stakeholder participation.
The ability to collect data through mobile phones is not new and various applications have been developed and implemented in several countries. The m-panel® system was developed to offer a cost effective solution based on technology with which the actual users are already familiar. In doing so, greater synergy between technology, development objectives, and participant capacity can more easily be achieved:
Rapid Asia’s m-panel system
Based on your organization’s specifications and particular programme needs, Rapid Asia can help set up a mobile phone panel (m-panel) with key participants. The initial step is of course to determine whether, in fact, the m-panel is the best method to use.
Rapid Asia can assist with recruitment of panel participants but it is often the case that the client already has implementation partners they wish to use. Once the participants have been identified, Rapid Asia will:
- Screen participant: to ensure they fulfill all the criteria set by the client
- Conduct a connectivity test with their mobile phones to ensure they can receive and send information
- Perform training of all participants to ensure they are 100% comfortable with the system
Following the training, Rapid Asia will send out and collect information on a regular basis. All data collected is transferred to a secure server and information can be accessed through a fully customized reporting interface with “real time” reporting capabilities. Clients also have the option of having their own portal on which data collected can be viewed in real time.
Panel participants can also be contacted over the phone for verification purposes or to collect additional data.
To set up a panel can take as little as two weeks but may vary depending on panel size and location.
The monitoring possibilities offered by the mobile phone panel (m-panel) system are only limited by imagination. The system can be fully customized and can be applied in many different thematic areas as a surveillance system or as a tool for regular programme monitoring.
Regardless of the application, the system will provide the following advantages:
- Reliability: Use of proven technology without the need to purchase mobile phone software or hardware. Panel members can use their own mobile phone with which they are already familiar.
- Accuracy and Consistency: All participants are trained and incentivized. Participants are known to us and can be contacted at any time for verification.
- Cost Effectiveness: Apart from the process of setting up the panel of participants, the cost of actually collecting the information itself is relatively small and will diminish over time.
- Flexibility: Reporting forms are easily updated or changed. The panel itself can be small or large and can run for a short or longer period of time.
- Speed: Reporting can be carried out in ‘real time’, a crucial factor in emergency and time critical scenarios.
- Good Coverage: The system can be set up in any area with mobile phone coverage, which in most countries includes both urban and, increasingly, rural areas.
Rapid Asia can set up a client portal allowing access to results in real time.
The portal is secure with login and password protection. Because login is from the Rapid Asia website, clients can monitor their results from any place with internet access.
In early 2010, Rapid Asia was commissioned by Academy for Educational Development (AED) to set up a mobile phone panel (m-panel®) in the Philippines to monitor the launch of a new H1N1 vaccine. Some 50 health care workers (HCWs), mostly women, from different clinics in Manila, were recruited to participate in the panel.
Using their own mobile phones, the HCWs reported on a weekly basis on the progress of the vaccination program. In the first stage, the focus was on vaccination take up amongst the HCWs themselves, the extent to which HCWs participated and reason for refusal.
In the second stage of the monitoring programme, the focus shifted to priority group patients such as pregnant women, young children, older people and people with chronic illnesses.
Key issues monitored included:
- Vaccination uptake amongst priority groups
- Extent of vaccination refusal
- Reason for refusal
- Communication activities undertaken by the clinics
- Vaccine and supply stock shortages