Tracking Flu with ICT, and Lessons Learned
Part 3 of a blog series on ICT in PPPs shows key dimensions of successful programs--and raises more questions
In my last two posts on HMRI and other programs, I discussed various call centers that use ICT to improve accuracy of diagnosis and treatment in rural areas with limited access to care. Another opportunity this technology provides is the ability to identify and track outbreaks and other important health issues. I will discuss these opportunities, and wrap up this series by providing a framework for ICT programs operated in partnerships to succeed.
Surveillance and Control of Infectious Disease
Government of India and Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) initiated a helpline with toll free number 1075 operated in partnership with private providers was launched in February 2008. Medical practitioners and the general public could call toll free number 1075. To report any suspected disease or any pandemic situation, such as H1N1, people call the Monitoring Cell of NICD at 011-23093401. Call line operators recommend a series of actions for each reported incident.
India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conducts exit screening in all international airports, port and border check points. National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) is the nodal agency for outbreak investigations, having a Central Rapid Response Team to investigate outbreaks and assist the state in implementing necessary public health measures.
Lessons Learned of ICT Programs
These types of ICT programs have benefits and drawbacks. They have been helpful in improving the government’s existing system by providing well-documented feedback on various programs initiated by government in health sector which is not available today. They can be highly scalable and efficient and help improve performance in public-private partnerships. Beneficiaries and society appreciate these partnerships. Yet funding is often difficult to sustain, and collecting user fees in poor rural areas can be challenging.
With more and more governments initiating such programs in India through public private partnership it could be scaled up to most parts of the country to reach the population located distantly in a scattered geography where there is significant shortage of healthcare professionals in a very short time.
These initiatives are expected to create tremendous impact along with learning’s for future. It is essential to have transparency and accountability in contract management to achieve an expected outcome.
This partnership attempts to combine the capabilities of public sector with those of the private sector—and overcome weaknesses in both sectors. Governments’ robust and dynamic structure sets them as an enabler with high ownership, safeguarding consumer and public interests apart from commercial interests with a transparent and well-conceived contract.
In conclusion, I believe the four dimensions in the public private partnership that can provide better results are: i) Conceptualizing ii) Contracting iii) Funding, Pricing and Incentivizing iv) Monitoring and evaluation
What do you think? I think the best combination of these four elements would result in a good program. What do you think? What are the benefits of having the government contract with the private sector to implement ICT? What are the challenges?
Editor's note: Clearly this is a hot topic! Comments are welcome! Will those writing comments please introduce yourself and include your workplace, if you are willing to share this information.