This month the University of Florida launched a new children’s healthline in Haiti using Trek Medics’ Beacon software to improve access to nighttime healthcare and prevent acute childhood illnesses from converting to emergencies. The children’s health hotline, called MotoMeds, consists of an after-hours call-center staffed by nurses that provide health assessments over the phone and, when needed, coordinate with local moto taxi drivers to deliver medications to children from 6pm to 5am, when local clinics are closed and children are completely isolated from care.
Led by Molly Klarman, MPH, and Dr. Eric Jorge Nelson, MD, PhD, at the University of Florida, MotoMeds is funded through a National Institutes of Health research study called INACT (“Improving nighttime access to care and treatment”). The aim is to demonstrate a novel approach for improving pediatric care through mobile technologies. Study endpoints are based on safety measures to determine if call center assessments match what is observed at the bedside. These data will be used to build clinical call-center guidelines and electronic decision-support.
Children in resource-limited settings who develop illness at night are often isolated from pre-emergency care, resulting in progression to an emergency because families are forced to wait until morning to seek care. This is especially true in Haiti where the only options for seeking care for sudden illness is the regional hospitals, which are too far and expensive to travel to at night. MotoMeds was designed to improve access to nighttime care by establishing a health hotline and mobile pharmacy for families with children who become ill after the clinics have closed.
MotoMeds is staffed by Haitian nurses who provide phone-based assessment and treatment recommendations according to standard of care practices derived from Haitian and World Health Organization guidelines. The healthline’s main objective is to improve access to basic medications and hydration fluids through a mobile pharmacy service for pre-emergency patients (those without danger signs as defined by WHO guidelines).
Through this program, Klarman and Nelson are hopeful to develop guidelines that will serve as a model for pediatric healthlines where acute diarrheal disease and respiratory illness are major contributors to pediatric morbidity and mortality.
“The idea for MotoMeds came from Haiti,” Dr. Nelson says. “It was inspired in 2010 by cholera patients that died at night because they were isolated from access to oral rehydration fluid and sound clinical advice. It’s Haitian inspired and once validated, we hope will serve as a model for global deployment.