How WhatsApp is transforming communications within the Kenyan healthcare system

Most of the health data in Kenya is still recorded on paper reports at the facilities and delivered to the Sub Counties for digitization once a month. When real-time data is needed for decision-making, WhatsApp is often used to bypass the official process.

As a way to share information faster

Formal channels like email and paper reports don’t always meet the time sensitive data needs of the dynamic immunization program. WhatsApp filled that gap, allowing for real-time information sharing including reports.

As a widely accepted stock management tool

While there were many logistics tools that support the management of stock in the system such as ordering forms and online stock management platforms, WhatsApp played a crucial role in the often rapid and ad-hoc nature of stock ordering, management and distribution across Kenya’s immunization program.

As a way to engage and motivate staff, or each other

Supportive supervision activities within the system were chronically underfunded, irregular and often seen as an evaluative exercise rather than a feedback and motivational opportunity. WhatsApp was used by many supervisors as a mechanism to motivate their team, make data more transparent, and allow peer-level data validation.

Sub County Records Officers spend a lot of their time following up on the data they get from the facilities. Rather than waiting for corrected paper reports, they are increasingly utilizing WhatsApp to help correct mistakes. Pictured above, a Records Officer is reviewing a corrected excel spreadsheet which he uses to update the official information in the DHIS-2 system.
The Vaccine Data Discovery Research study is a joint research effort between Sonder Collective and John Snow Inc. (JSI) to apply the Human-Centered Design approach in order to uncover and prioritize data specific pain points and challenges that healthcare workers and managers at all levels within a country encounter in delivering immunization services in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique.
Sonder Collective specializes in the application of Human-Centered Design to social and health challenges, particularly in low resource settings. The Sonder team has intensive experience conducting design research in maternal and newborn child health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, community health, health supply chains and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. John Snow Inc. (JSI) is a public health management consulting and research organization that works to improve health outcomes through strengthening health systems in partnership with country Governments. JSI works across immunization, maternal newborn and child health, nutrition, supply chain system design, paper based and digital information systems globally. JSI has led on immunization on USAID flagship projects like the Maternal and Child Survival Program, TSHIP and has been a key partner on MEASURE Evaluation for the past 20 years.

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Vx Data Insights

Vx Data Insights

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A Human-Centered Design study in Kenya, DRC, and Mozambique to understand how data is used for decision-making in delivering immunization services.