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Development and Implementation of Digital Diagnostic Algorithms for Neonatal Units in Zimbabwe and Malawi: Development and Usability Study

Gannon, Hannah; Larsson, Leyla; Chimhuya, Simbarashe; Mangiza, Marcia; Wilson, Emma; Kesler, Erin; Chimhini, Gwendoline; ... Chiume, Msandeni; + view all (2024) Development and Implementation of Digital Diagnostic Algorithms for Neonatal Units in Zimbabwe and Malawi: Development and Usability Study. JMIR Formative Research , 8 , Article e54274. 10.2196/54274. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Despite an increase in hospital-based deliveries, neonatal mortality remains high in low-resource settings. Due to limited laboratory diagnostics, there is significant reliance on clinical findings to inform diagnoses. Accurate, evidence-based identification and management of neonatal conditions could improve outcomes by standardizing care. This could be achieved through digital clinical decision support (CDS) tools. Neotree is a digital, quality improvement platform that incorporates CDS, aiming to improve neonatal care in low-resource health care facilities. Before this study, first-phase CDS development included developing and implementing neonatal resuscitation algorithms, creating initial versions of CDS to address a range of neonatal conditions, and a Delphi study to review key algorithms. OBJECTIVE: This second-phase study aims to codevelop and implement neonatal digital CDS algorithms in Malawi and Zimbabwe. METHODS: Overall, 11 diagnosis-specific web-based workshops with Zimbabwean, Malawian, and UK neonatal experts were conducted (August 2021 to April 2022) encompassing the following: (1) review of available evidence, (2) review of country-specific guidelines (Essential Medicines List and Standard Treatment Guidelinesfor Zimbabwe and Care of the Infant and Newborn, Malawi), and (3) identification of uncertainties within the literature for future studies. After agreement of clinical content, the algorithms were programmed into a test script, tested with the respective hospital's health care professionals (HCPs), and refined according to their feedback. Once finalized, the algorithms were programmed into the Neotree software and implemented at the tertiary-level implementation sites: Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Zimbabwe and Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi, in December 2021 and May 2022, respectively. In Zimbabwe, usability was evaluated through 2 usability workshops and usability questionnaires: Post-Study System Usability Questionnaire (PSSUQ) and System Usability Scale (SUS). RESULTS: Overall, 11 evidence-based diagnostic and management algorithms were tailored to local resource availability. These refined algorithms were then integrated into Neotree. Where national management guidelines differed, country-specific guidelines were created. In total, 9 HCPs attended the usability workshops and completed the SUS, among whom 8 (89%) completed the PSSUQ. Both usability scores (SUS mean score 75.8 out of 100 [higher score is better]; PSSUQ overall score 2.28 out of 7 [lower score is better]) demonstrated high usability of the CDS function but highlighted issues around technical complexity, which continue to be addressed iteratively. CONCLUSIONS: This study describes the successful development and implementation of the only known neonatal CDS system, incorporated within a bedside data capture system with the ability to deliver up-to-date management guidelines, tailored to local resource availability. This study highlighted the importance of collaborative participatory design. Further implementation evaluation is planned to guide and inform the development of health system and program strategies to support newborn HCPs, with the ultimate goal of reducing preventable neonatal morbidity and mortality in low-resource settings.

Type: Article
Title: Development and Implementation of Digital Diagnostic Algorithms for Neonatal Units in Zimbabwe and Malawi: Development and Usability Study
Location: Canada
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2196/54274
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/54274
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Malawi, Zimbabwe, clinical decision support, digital health, mHealth, mobile apps, mobile health, neonatology, newborn, usability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Dept
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10187125
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