Effective public service delivery through innovative governance knowledge exchange
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Dr. SMS: Introducing healthcare through mobile technology in Kerala
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Source: OneWorld South Asia
Source: OneWorld South Asia
An innovative m-governance initiative, Dr SMS was launched by the Kerala State IT Mission in 2008 with the aim to improve people's access to health care related information through simple and innovative use of mobile telephony.

One of the primary challenges that restricts people's utilisation of medical services is the lack of reliable and easily available information related to availability of healthcare in their immediate locality. Recognising this problem, the Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM), the technology implementation wing of the Government of Kerala in India, launched Dr. SMS on 29 May 2008 as a pilot project in Kozhikode district of the state. Drs SMS is an m-health project that was initiated to improve the health of the citizens of Kerala by delivering timely and authentic information on health related resources via short message service (SMS).

The primary objective of this project is to make accessible comprehensive information on medical and diagnostic facilities and to provide informational alerts about emerging diseases through mobile phones. To avail this service, users have to send their query in a preformatted fashion by an SMS to a unique short code number 537252 and within a time frame of 2-3 seconds, they get a return SMS with the information desired. Other than the SMS channel, web portal catering to the internet users has also been prepared for delivering the health infrastructure information that is available at the website - www.drsms.kerala.gov.in.

In a little more than a year of initiation of the preliminary project, Dr. SMS was launched across the state. The project has been especially helpful for the tourists, serving as a first aid kit for them as the latter are largely unaware of sources to access in case of a medical emergency. On an average, this project witnesses 200 transactions in a day. Since the charges accruing to the users are very nominal, everyone who owns a feature phone is able to take benefits of this facility. Encouraged by the wide gained popularity of this initiative, this project that initially started in Kozhikode district has now been expanded to 13 out of 14 districts of Kerala.

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