EpiSurveyor Mobile Data Collection for Public Health
EpiSurveyor uses the web and mobile to make real-time data collection, and effective management, available to every health program and clinic worldwide.
About Your Organization
The Datadyne Group
United States, DC, Washington, Washington
Country where this project is creating social impact
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
Wall Street Journal Award for Innovation in Healthcare Technology
$100,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Sustainable Innovation
Fast Company Social Enterprise of the Year
Tech Museum Award
Stockholm Challenge Award
Yahoo! Green Award
FACT Social Justice Award
References - Please provide two references with a two-sentence biography, email address, and phone number for each
Mike Frost, John Snow International, Mike_Frost@jsi.com 703.528.7474
Mike is the mHealth coordinator at JSI, in change of coordinating use of mobile tools for health for JSI's worldwide operations. Mike also made the decision, two years ago, to become our first paying user of our EpiSurveyor mobile data tool and has since increased his utilization and promotion of the technology both within and outside of his own organization.
Dr. Mark Grabowsky, US Department of Health and Human Service, Mark.Grabowsky@hhs.gov 202-368-6308
Dr. Mark is a twenty year veteran at the Centers for Disease Control, and a key figure in measles and malaria vaccination worldwide. He has been the head of malaria at the Global Fund, as well as the epidemiology head for the Measles Initiative, and is also an early supporter of mobile electronic data collection as a tool for improving public health performance.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Scaling (the next step will be growing impact on a regional or even global scale)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
Access, Cost, Transparency, Quality, Equity.
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Critical public health data in developing countries (including for supply chain management, for monitoring & evaluation, for establishing baselines, and for administrative purposes) is collected slowly and expensively using paper forms -- or, because of the cost and difficulty, it is not collected at all.
This affects every developing country health system, and many other programs.
Unfortunately, existing electronic data systems are complex and and expensive, requiring expensive consultants and programmers. This complexity and cost limits access, while consuming money and resources that could be spent on vaccines, bednets, and other essentials.
EpiSurveyor changes all this by creating a simple, online, consultant-free system that is "like Gmail, but for data collection."
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
EpiSurveyor combines a web-based form designer, accessible for free to anyone, and a mobile "app" that runs on most mobile phones (not just smartphones). The software aims for a Gmail level of simplicity: no training is typically required, and anyone in the world can register and begin using the system to collect data immediately.
A user can design a form in minutes and be out in the field collecting data right away. Once collected, the data is uploaded to a website for instant analysis, visualization, or export.
EpiSurveyor was the first such "web app" for international development, and the first to adopt a freemium business model, where a very small minority of high-level users (like the World Bank, Red Cross, USAID and Camfed) pay for the service and this subsidizes provision of service to more than 6000 free users.
Our innovation is both tech and financial: the web app + mobile app model, plus the cross-subsidization model. And it's programmed and supported in Kenya!
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
EpiSurveyor is provided as a web app (also called “software-as-a-service”), with a “freemium” price structure providing free basic capacity to everyone, supported by higher-functionality paid user licenses for larger organization. This means that large organizations get the technology they need -- and so does EVERY other organization that wants it. This type of model is only possible using the economies of scale on the web, and it means that the old model -- where rich organizations get good tech and poor organizations don't -- is eliminated.
EpiSurveyor has just begun scaling, but is ALREADY the most widely scaled "tech for development" software ever: nearly 7000 users in more than 170 countries.
One example of a paying user is JSI: they use EpiSurveyor to manage HIV and malaria drug supply chains in numerous African countries, ensuring that drugs are in-stock when needed.
One FREE user is Aquaya.org, which uses EpiSurveyor to help operators of rural water systems submit water quality data to their managers. Those with resources subsidize those without.
While we were initially focused on health, and it is still our primary concern, we are gratified to see EpiSurveyor now being used for conservation (Smithsonian), education of girls (Camfed), agriculture (Kickstart), and other purposes.
And our own focus is now to (1) keep improving the product (we just finished our first iPhone version), and (2) to make sure that more and more of those who can benefit from EpiSurveyor get to hear about it!
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
There are many online commercial data collection systems, such as SurveyMonkey. These systems are excellent for web surveys, but don't work at all for complex data collection on mobiles in the field.
In the development space, there are many open source products (e.g. RapidSMS or ODK) which can be technologically good, but require programmers to set up and operate, and are thus expensive and limited in scale. They are also often the "hobby" of a group of programmers, and organizations don't want critical data dependent on hobbyists: they want dependable service 24/7/365.
EpiSurveyor isn't our hobby. EpiSurveyor is our love and our responsibility. Our users, free and paid, love the service and love the product. Which is good because they're our primary source of revenue!
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
DataDyne was founded by Joel Selanikio, an epidemiologist, physician, and technologist formerly with the CDC, and Rose Donna, a computer scientist and veteran of years of fieldwork with the American Red Cross. While working in Africa as consultants to the Red Cross with Palm PDAs for data collection, they both began to notice two things: (1) increasingly the health workers all had mobile phones, and (2) they all also had Yahoo Mail on their desktops.
This made them realize that a new computer infrastructure was already scaling around the world, in the form of the mobile phone. Just as importantly, they realized that a new kind of software was scaling: web-based, free, and so simple that no training or consultants were needed.
Since that realization, Selanikio and Donna have worked to bring that kind of simplicity and low cost and scale to mobile data collection with EpiSurveyor -- the most widely scaled and longest-sustained mobile data system ever created for development.
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Our goal is very simple: to make a world in which any health ministry, any NGO, any researcher, any pharmacy, or any clinic can collect the data that they need in order to establish baselines, determine priorities, manage supply chains, keep track of patients, derive best practices, and run efficiently and effectively.
Regardless of their financial situation.
And our immediate goal is to make sure that those organizations that can benefit from EpiSurveyor know that it exists and is waiting for them.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
To date nearly 7000 EpiSurveyor users have uploaded more than 300,000 completed data forms, from more than 170 countries. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of organizations have benefited, as have the people they serve.
For example, in Africa organizations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies work to distribute bednets, test and treat for malaria, and vaccinate against measles -- all guided by EpiSurveyor-based monitoring and evaluation. In Latin America, Tula Salud, a small NGO, uses EpiSurveyor for its community health workers to keep track of their patients. In Indonesia, the World Bank is expanding an initial clinical pilot to the entire city of Jakarta to track maternal health.
EpiSurveyor means resources are well-used, that expenditures are tracked, that evaluations get done, that decisions are based on real (and real-time) data. This means the entire system of public health runs more efficiently: saving more lives and wasting fewer resources.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
It is very likely true that most organizations that might benefit from EpiSurveyor have never even heard of EpiSurveyor. Our goal is to change that in the next five years, and to go from ~7000 users to about 50,000 users in the next five years. These will be in the field of health and sure in some fields that our users will choose that we haven't even imagined.
The World Bank did a study in 2010 and documented that EpiSurveyor lowered their data collection costs by 70% -- while simultaneously increasing data quality and the speed of data collection. Imagine this applied across all the fields of public health, or international development. Imagine every program working in the dark, unsure of its impact, actually KNOWING what they are doing right and doing wrong. That's our impact.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Right now our biggest barrier is "marketing": we have no budget for marketing and this means that our gains in users have come simply by word of mouth. As remarkable as those gains have been -- and they are best-in-class -- we need to do better.
To address this, we are currently developing a master marketing plan, and raising funds to address our shortcomings in this regard. Hopefully, winning this award might also help. :-)
Luckily, at this point we are bringing in enough revenue from our very small percentage of paying users to keep up our operations, so we're not going anywhere. Our goal is to raise funding for marketing, but if we are unsuccessful we intend to continue marketing with word of mouth, and by example.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
As we have moved well beyond the piloting stage our main focus in the immediate future is to enhance branding online and offline
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Development of marketing strategy to increase product visibility
Rewriting our web app to increase speed on slow connections
Creating tablet versions of the software
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Within 12 months we intend to have increased our user base to 10,000 users.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Implement marketing strategy
Complete web app rewrite
Develop data marketplace: allow users to buy & sell their datasets & services
Tell us about your partnerships
We have been very fortunate to have several strong partners such as JSI, Abt Associates, World Bank and IFRC to name a few. From these partnerships not only were we able to secure funding to enhance EpiSurveyors capabilities we were able to test it first hand in the field.
These partners have helped us to determine the exact functions that were needed for their specific data collection. In addition to having access to hands on testing the funding from these partners allows us to share the enhancements with all users include free subscribers.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?
As Episurveyor is not a content specific application the user population is enormous.
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
Datadyne's founders have over 20 years of combined on the ground technology and international development experience. This is unique in that we are not just technology people but have hands on experience collecting and analyizing data. We have a first hand understanding of the environment, the users and the data that needs to be collected.
In addition our programming staff is in Nairobi Kenya. This gives our team the ability to stay abreast of the technology that is being used locally and the
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list