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Blue Angel Network: Scaling last mile access to Health IT powered by youth

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ZiDi™ is a software developed for point-of-care (POC) tracking of commodities in clinics serving rural and peri-urban communities in Kenya. We are scaling a network of trained youth, Blue Angels, to promote ZiDi™ and improve availability, accessibility, quality and affordability medicines.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Patients living in low-income peri-urban or rural communities are forced to travel long distances to access care, which costs them time and money – the poverty penalty. In response, private owner-operated clinics serving the last mile are becoming commonplace. However these emerging clinics, which rely on sales of medicines to be sustainable, report frequent stock-outs of medicines. The poor computer skills make stock management a challenge.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To bridge this gap, we are developing a 250-strong network of trained youth, branded the Blue Angel Network, to support the uptake of ZiDi™, a health management information system developed to facilitate POC tracking of commodities and stock management in clinics. Blue Angels train HCPs to appreciate and accept the benefits of health IT, notably for real-time tracking of inventory to reduce losses and stock-outs, and maximize returns from their inventory; Blue Angels will train HCPs to validate the authenticity of medicines and curb the exposure of patients to counterfeit medicines; Blue Angels will assist clinics with forecasting to optimally stock their clinics with the necessary variety of drugs and improve availability of medicines.

Awards

2013 GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award; 2014 Financial Times – International Finance Corporation Sustainable Technologies in Healthcare Finalist; 2014 Frost & Sullivan Customer Service Leadership Award; 2015 Social Innovation Leadership

Founding Story

After spending three years developing ZiDi™ into a leading one-stop-shop solution tailored to track revenue, inventory, utilization and productivity in clinics in the Africa market, we observed a slow adoption of ZiDi™ by the clinics. More disappointing was the limited use of ZiDi™ for inventory management, a key driver of the owner’s decision to purchase a health IT solution. Interviews with HCP revealed computer literacy was low in the clinics. We also realized that owners of clinics lacked a basic decision-support framework to guide dispensing practices. These findings indicated a deeper need for training. The result was the birth of The Blue Angel Network. Clinics love Blue Angels.

Team

The Blue Angel Network is presently comprised of 6 fulltime youth, 5 males and 1 female. All were university graduates with degrees in business administration or information technology, and were under-employed prior to becoming Blue Angels. They were recruited from a pool of applicants based on their sense of empathy, a desire to serve the last mile, a mechanical or technical inclination, and strong sense of community connectedness – they had traits of changemakers in their own right. They received extensive training on the features and functions of ZiDi™, and mastered how to motivate clinics to adopt health IT and go digital, against the odds of power shortage, zero connectivity and the lack of computers in their facilities. The Blue Angel Network is presently coordinated by the sales manager of MicroClinic Technologies, and they report through to the chief operating officer. We intend to recruit a Blue Angel coordinator to oversee the recruitment and training of an additional 250 Blue Angels over the next 12 months.

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