Biometrics Fight Tuberculosis in India

Biometrics Fight TB in IndiaA health outreach group in India is using biometric technology to help fight tuberculosis. Called Operation ASHA, the organization is leveraging digital fingerprint authentication to ensure that TB sufferers are taking their medication.

The group has opened treatment centers in remote and underserved parts of the country, where TB patients can come in to receive assistance from healthcare workers. According to Operation ASHA co-founder and President Shelly Batra, MD, who was interviewed by Aida Aki for Voice of America, patients diagnosed with TB can require up to 76 doses of medicines over a period of half a year, and the medication needs to be administered under direct observation. It’s onerous, in other words, and this can lead to lapses in medication administration.

That’s where Operation ASHA’s eCompliance system comes in. When a TB patient is first diagnosed, her fingerprints are registered at the local treatment center and uploaded into a database. Thereafter, every time the patient comes in and takes medication, she has her fingerprint scanned by a device connected to a mobile tablet, and the authentication data is verified with a central server. If a dose is missed, an alert is issued to the patient, a designated healthcare worker, and that worker’s supervisor. The healthcare worker will then follow up with the patient within the next two days, ensuring the patient gets back on track in taking medicine.

Biometric technology is increasingly prevalent in India, largely due to the ambitious Aadhaar national ID project, and so many patients being introduced to this system may already have some familiarity with the kinds of fingerprint scanning devices employed. In any case, Dr. Batra says the system “helps to achieve a very high adherence rate and treatment success rate,” with a pilot study in Cambodia indicating that the overall Operation ASHA system achieved a 20 percent boost in detection, productivity, and cost-reduction.

Source: Voice of America

July 8, 2015 – by Alex Perala