In many rural and disadvantaged communities, health workers travel from village to village carrying heavy piles of patient records that are easily damaged and hard to sort through. A tablet would make their jobs quicker, more efficient and lighten their load.
Charging them on a daily basis isn’t always possible, however, and heat can slow down processing speeds, and reduce battery life. To free up more of the health workers’ time and improve patient care, a more durable solution is needed.
“The pandemic has shown us that access to real-time data is vitally important for the effective rollout of treatment and preventative care,” says Mary Woodgate, Managing Director at Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP). “It has also exposed inequalities in the ability to access this data in different areas of the world.”
Most rugged tablets are too expensive to be widely adopted in these challenging environments. “Currently there’s no affordable off-the-shelf device that exists to meet the needs of health workers in rural and disadvantaged communities.”
Rethinking technology to bridge the digital divide
Be Healthy Be Mobile has been working to solve this challenge with the help of semiconductor IP design company Arm and ADP, which has a proven track record in helping nonprofits make an impact through innovation.
“ADP has strong expertise and great links in the development sector,” says Fiona Riggall, Arm’s Senior Sustainability Manager, “as well as amazing project management skills that helped keep the project on track.”
“Working with ADP, we were able to connect with on-the-ground NGOs, carry out interviews to understand the needs of users and research the potential market size. This led to us creating a prototype tablet and carrying out field testing.”
With information supplied by health workers in key countries, ADP and Arm prototyped a bespoke rugged tablet and conducted testing in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
“The community health workers we talked to want to deliver the best healthcare service possible,” Mary adds. “This device allows them to spend less time on paperwork and be more engaged with patients, doing the job that they love to do.”
"Currently, there’s no off-the-shelf device that exists to meet the needs of health workers in rural and disadvantaged communities."
— Mary Woodgate, Managing Director – Accenture Development Partnerships
A valuable difference
The field tests showed that a durable tablet with long battery life at an affordable price could bring real benefits to rural and low-income communities.
A tablet like this could further transform lives in other areas like education, disaster relief, agriculture, and commercial field work. “There’s a huge opportunity here,” Mary says, “to reduce digital inequality.”
“At Accenture, we believe in the power of technology and human ingenuity. We’re constantly striving to create positive impact for our people, our societies and the planet.”
Accenture worked collaboratively across functions, selecting resources with strategy, project management, design, digital, communications, and high-tech skill sets in mind. As a result, ADP and Arm were a fully integrated team from start to finish.
The project sets an example not just of how to put values into action, but also challenges innovators to think beyond their own demographic bubbles.
“Challenging entrenched design biases isn’t easy,” Fiona says, “but by taking a human-centred approach and testing our assumptions, we can change the market and bring benefits to many, many lives.”
"Challenging entrenched design biases isn’t easy, but by taking a human-centred approach and testing our assumptions, we can change the market and bring benefits to many, many lives."
— Fiona Riggall, Senior Sustainability Manager – Arm