HP's Early Infant Diagnosis program enables efficient delivery of test results

Sending results via SMS means test results get to healthcare providers within days instead of months

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Millions of people around the world don't have access to basic health services, and millions more are at risk because of inefficient healthcare systems or inconsistent quality of care.

Hewlett-Packard Co. not only recognized the problem but realized that its technology could improve healthcare delivery for many underserved populations. As a result, HP has been collaborating with health authorities to reinvent processes, modernize systems and develop solutions that dramatically expand access, improve care and save lives.

One such HP project is the Early Infant Diagnosis program, which was fully implemented by June 2011.

The program, the product of an alliance between HP, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Kenyan government, resulted in a system for efficiently diagnosing and treating HIV-positive infants in Kenya. HP also donated the server, storage and networking equipment.

Through the HP-developed system, each test sample is assigned a bar code, processed and recorded in a database. Then each lab result is sent by text message to an SMS-enabled printer in the local clinic, where it can immediately be printed out. If the clinic has Internet access, the result is also emailed, plus the local healthcare provider can access results online.

The use of SMS to reliably send and receive test results is key in this program, because even clinics without Internet access can receive SMS messages.

One of the biggest benefits of the program is the early diagnosis of HIV-positive infants. The Kenyan government tests all infants at birth, but prior to this program, use of an inefficient postal system for communication meant that healthcare providers at local clinics could wait up to four months before receiving the results.

But the HP technology delivers test results to even the most remote clinics, typically just a day or two after analysis in one of the national laboratories. As a result, HIV-positive infants can begin receiving life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatments within days of diagnosis instead of months, a time difference that gives these babies the best chance of survival. Without early treatment, only half of HIV-positive infants are likely to survive past their second birthday.

The program also helps healthcare providers make more informed decisions, monitor infant progress and ensure the receipt of ARV treatment by providing richer near-real-time data, timely analysis and process transparency.

Read more about the 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureates.

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