At times, it can seem as if smartphones are making our lives more complicated, but not in the case of Living Goods Nsangi Branch Manager, Judith Ssese. Though Living Goods’ Android technology was only recently rolled out, Judith remembers the paper world of the past as an administrative nightmare.
“Oh, I used to dread the end of the month when it was time for the monthly reports,” Judith laughs. “I supervise 44 CHWs and every month I had to collect their reports, extract that information, fill out my own report and deliver to the head office. Often, I would have to call the CHWs for clarification or chase them for their reports, and the whole thing would take me 2-3 days. Now, all their data is registered live and goes straight to the console.” So how long does it take her to complete her reports now? “Well, it really happens on its own,” Judith says, rather amused. “I guess it is now two to three minutes instead of two to three days.”
In addition to drastically reducing a branch manager’s workload, the system also pays a great part in improved supervision and motivation of the CHWs.
“It is a smartphone, which was completely new to most of the CHW. But, already, they are so happy with it and you can tell they are so much more confident. Before, they would have to often refer to the treatment guides, but now the phone talks them through the whole procedure. I used to get a lot of calls from CHWs wanting reassurance they were doing the right thing, but that no longer happens.”
Judith is also using the technology to create some healthy competition with other branches in order to increase the CHWs’ efficiency.
“When the CHWs come in for re-stocking or training, I will pull them over to the screen and say ‘see how this branch is performing, what is happening here?’ And because it is on the screen it feels real to them, and they really step up to perform better, because they want their branch to be the best.”
The phones also impact how CHWs are perceived in their communities.
“It creates excitement among the client. This has really raised the CHWs up in the communities, and it has increased many of their door to door visits, as they are eager to show off the phone.”
For CHW Miriam Bulamu, her phone has really turned her business around.
“Because I have only lived in my village for a few years, some people were a bit reluctant to seek my services,” Miriam explains. “I would introduce Living Goods and myself as a CHW, but people didn’t always trust me, which was hard. But with the phone, and people getting direct messages, they can see I have an organization behind me, so now their confidence is growing. They see me using the phone for diagnosing and treatment, and the word is spreading about my services. Before, I would treat maybe 20-30 children in one month. This last month, with the phone, I have treated 60 children.”