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a two-way, mobile phone-based communication system that uses basic text messaging, or SMS, to connect ministries of health and health workers. mHero operates on simple talk-and-text mobile devices—no smartphone or tablet required.

mHero is a two-way, mobile phone-based communication system that connects ministries of health and health workers. It uses data from existing local health information systems to deliver messages via locally popular communication channels. It reduces the barriers that can exist between health workers and their support systems, playing a critical role in ensuring effective and efficient responses, particularly in a .

Health officials can use mHero to:

  • Communicate both routine and urgent messages to health workers. 
  • Target messages to health workers based on cadre, location, or set. 
  • Collect critical information that powers resilient health systems, including stock levels, routine and one-time assessments, and validation of health worker and facility data.
  • Build capacity and provide support to health workers, to give them the information, skills, and encouragement to deliver quality health services.

mHero is not a new technology. Rather, it is a new way to connect data from existing technologies to allow for targeted, real-time communication. It does so by using global   standards for health information exchange (FHIR). This means it it can help platforms speak in a common language with each other and easily share data.

IntraHealth International and UNICEF created mHero in August 2014 to support health-sector communication during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia (Read more about mHero's origin story). The original version of mHero connected Liberia's health workforce information system, iHRIS, with RapidPro, a platform that delivers basic text and audio messages. The use of RapidPro made it possible to reach most Liberian frontline health workers who, at the time, had only basic mobile phones.

Since the end of the Ebola crisis, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia has integrated the platform into its health information system infrastructure to meet ongoing communication needs for a variety of health services. Sierra Leone and Senegal have also implemented mHero.

The technology behind mHero has also evolved since the initial deployment in Liberia. Advancements in technology along with differing conditions and needs in other countries inspired IntraHealth to make mHero more interoperable. Now it can work with other communication platforms and any health information systems compliant with the global OpenHIE principles for health information exchange. Read more about the technology behind mHero.

mHero’s origin and ongoing use and development illustrates how the platform is flexible, scalable, and sustainable by governments in low- and middle-income countries.

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Supported Use Cases

Message broadcasts to health workers

There are many reasons why a ministry of health may to send out blasts of information to all or specific groups of health workers: important updates or urgent warnings during an , notification of new policies or procedures, reminders about routine data collection, encouragement and appreciation for the work being done, and more. mHero makes it possible to easily and rapidly send out messages to health workers whose information is included in a health information system such as iHRIS. All health workers across the country can be efficiently reached, or messages can be targeted at groups of health workers who share attributes (i.e. all midwives in the country, all health workers in a certain district, all health workers who attended a specific ).

Messages or flows of messages must be created in RapidPro. Once that is done, in iHRIS, MOH HR staff can: select recipients of messages with the option to filter by profile fields, manage the contact groups, and initiate the sending of messages.

Related CM functions

Two-way communication between health officials and health workers

Through mHero it is possible for ministries of health and health workers to have back and forth conversations with each other. Health officials can initiate the communication, for example: soliciting routine information such as service delivery or stock information or getting feedback from health workers about policies and procedures. Health workers can also initiate the communication to do things such as reporting new cases of an epidemic-prone disease and documenting issues and incidents at their workplace. The real-time exchange of information can help health officials to respond to emerging issues and determine service delivery priorities, as well as equipping health workers with important information and resources that they to do their work. This can be motivating for health workers as it can make them feel recognized and supported.

RapidPro is used to create surveys or message flows, and iHRIS is used for creating and managing contact groups as well as for initiating the sending of messages and reviewing messages received. Exchanges can also be initiated by health workers who can send messages from their own phones at any time, using trigger words to initiate a flow of questions or messages.

Related CM functions

Interactive learning

Reinforcing learning from encourages knowledge retention. mHero can support a simple mLearning quiz using SMS or IVR technology to deliver questions or key information reminders to health workers who participated in a specific . Using a spaced education approach, the frequency and time for the SMS and IVR phone calls can be fixed with the option for health workers to also access the content at any time, to be reminded of what they learned whenever they it. Responses to quiz questions can permit health officials to assess knowledge of health workers, verify the effectiveness of trainings, and identify topics that to be reinforced or included in future trainings. 

Related CM functions

Validation of health worker information

Linking RapidPro and iHRIS (or other platforms) and syncing data between both platforms makes it possible to use mHero to quickly and easily update human resource records including individual profiles or staffing information. New contacts into RapidPro can also be added to the appropriate health worker registry. By using mHero to validate health worker information, a more accurate picture of current staffing by facility can improve human resources management at a local and national level which contributes to ensuring that all facilities throughout the country have adequate human resources to best serve their population.

Updating HR records through mHero works through automatic contact syncing (via emNutt) which transmits data between connected platforms. 

Related CM functions

Two-way contact sync and management of contact groups

Automatic contact syncing can be used for more than updating HR records. The new mHero Connector can be configured to sync with multiple health worker registries without the to use separate instances of RapidPro. Consolidating health worker information from multiple registries makes it possible to create contact groups of all workers from a specific location or jurisdiction, who work in a particular domain or type of facility, or other shared characteristics. Pulling health worker information from multiple registries and creating contact groups can streamline communication and facilitate cross-sector communication.

Related CM functions

Illustrations
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