PDAs Aren’t Just for Checking Email

October 15, 2009

Joaquin Blaya, a 2007-09 Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, took a year off during his graduate studies to return to Chile, where he was born. During this time, he realized that the key to his studies was to focus on the population he wanted to help, instead of simply stating that he was a mechanical engineer and wondering what kind of device he could build. After returning to MIT, he took lecturer Amy Smith’s D-Lab course and got connected with Partners in Health, a non-profit whose mission is to promote health care in resource-poor areas. Blaya has since launched a project in Lima, Peru, to equip healthcare workers with PDAs so that patients’ test results could be more easily transmitted to their doctors. The average time for data to reach the doctors dropped from 23 to 8 days. Also, the problem of data going missing for several weeks or months was eliminated. Peruvian health care workers embraced the program and it has now been expanded into all five of Lima’s districts. The current version of the tracking software, OpenMRS, can be found at http://openmrs.org/. Blaya used an earlier version of the software for his Peru study. For the full story, please see the original article on the MIT Media Relations website.

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