Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are responsible for providing basic health services related to Antenatal Care, Immunisation and other health programmes in rural areas and the activities are carried out by multipurpose health workers at sub-centres. The mobile based application “mCARE” developed by C-DAC enables health workers to use handheld devices such as Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) for capturing data from field and thus to analyse public health data from grass root level.  Such a comprehensive mobile based health information system which collects all health related data is the first of its kind in India. The application is fully developed using open source technologies and can be deployed on any smart phones or PDAs which runs on Windows Mobile Operating System.
The health workers have to send a lot of periodic reports to the supervisors or higher authorities and all these reports are generated manually. The paper based data system requires redundant data entry with no provision for consistency and generation of periodic reports by hand is laborious and time consuming. PDAs / smart phones are found to be an extremely efficient tool for conducting surveys. The mobile based health care application will minimize or eliminate redundant data entry and provides a permanent storage system for archiving the needed data. This will increase the accuracy of data flowing up from the health worker through the health care reporting structure. The solution has great potential for use in all villages around India and other third world countries
The “mCARE’’ has two major components working in tandem.
  • “health@palm” – an mHealth application which runs on smart phones and empowers health workers for health data capture and retrieval.
  • Centrally hosted web based application for health related data analysis and report generation which is accessible to higher authorities.

The application can be accessed through URL http://rhmis.kerala.gov.in/

Health workers are given smart phones or PDAs with “health@palm” loaded in it. The application is capable for handling all the field activities of the root level health workers and it can also replace the field diary. The health worker conducts surveys and enters data on household, demographics and health related data such as reproductive health, maternity health, immunization etc. into their handheld devices using “health@palm”. Once in a month, they return to their main Primary Health Centre (PHC) and sync up the smart phone / PDA with the computer in PHC. The server side web based application can transfer data collected in handheld device to the Central Server hosted at Data Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. This web based application will generate reports like monthly data set for sub centre and registers such as Family Heath Survey, Mother and Child health, Immunization reports etc. Apart from the usual reports that are already in use at the health centres, the system can generate reports on Immunization alerts which will help the health workers in scheduling the immunization activities for the coming month or day. Graphical and custom (dynamic) reports are other very helpful features added in the system.

The pilot implementation of “mCARE” is carried out at 120 health sub-centres in 20 PHCs covering three blocks Vettom, Valavannur and Kuttippuram under Tirur taluk of Malapuram district  in Kerala jointly by CDAC and NRHM. As part of the implementation, C-DAC has set up a Central health information server, connectivity and other accessories at data centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Necessary infrastructure with PCs, UPS, Printers and furniture are also provided at all PHCs under the three blocks. A total of 119 smart phones are already handed over to the health workers in these blocks. An extensive training programme was also conducted at these three blocks for all the health workers. Medical Officers and other supervisory staffs are also trained and are very delighted with the new initiative.  Health workers at these three blocks in Tirur Taluk have started making use of smart phones for providing better health care services to the rural masses.

To establish the connectivity between PHCs and Data Center, C-DAC uses Kerala State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) or BSNL broadband.