Using biometrics to tackle TB

It is critically important for TB patients to complete a full course of prescribed medication, to ensure that they are fully cured and that the any TB bacteria do not return in a drug-resistant form. However, the long treatment regimen often makes it difficult for patients to complete their course of medication.

In India, Microsoft Research India (MSR) and Operation Asha, are using a Biometric Monitoring System to help health workers keep track of patients’ medication. The system comprises a netbook computer to maintain patient records, a biometric fingerprint reader to record patients’ identities, and an attached mobile phone (or GSM modem) to upload the log of visitors via SMS to a central location.

“On each visit, patients scan their finger. If they come as scheduled, their visit is recorded on the system and relayed to the central office. If they miss a visit, the system sends an SMS notification to their health worker and program managers. This enables health workers to follow up with timely and targeted counselling for any patients who miss a dose, ensuring that they do not fall off the course of medication,” says Microsoft lead researcher Bill Thies.

The system is active in over 40 clinics in Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur, and has reached over 3,000 patients.

Read the full article in The Times of India.

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