Development of a Short Message Service (SMS) Based Server for an Auto Text Response System for First Aid Treatment

Development of a Short Message Service (SMS) Based Server for an Auto Text Response System for First Aid Treatment

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ABSTRACT

Emergencies resulting from accidents and illness occur all around us in everyday life and knowledge of what action needs to be taken to manage a crisis can make the difference between life and death. Basic first-aid skills can be helpful in taking care of small injuries that usually occur from accidents as well as assisting in emergency ill health such as epilepsy, nose bleeding, choking, burns, scalds, asthma attacks and trauma management to mention but a few.

The main objectives of this project was to develop SMS based first aid Information system and test it to look at the potential of SMS in improving access to first aid information in Kenya. 

The system development followed the waterfall system development life cycle. We first conducted a requirements and data gathering exercise to understand the user requirements as well as get credible first aid information. First aid information for use in the system was provided and approved by the Kenya Red Cross organization for testing purposes.  After developing the system all the 54 participants were introduced to the system and asked to try it out. Following the intervention, questionnaires were issued to the participants to get their feedback on areas such as system usability, efficiency and effectiveness.

All participants were able to interact with the system by initiating the system and getting SMS responses to first aid interventions queried. System usability tests conducted using questionnaires to the participants showed that 100% were satisfied with the system ease of use and would use it when officially launched. 78% of the participants felt that the system had the potential to create first aid awareness in Kenya and since most Kenyans own or have access to mobile phones with 98% of the participants owning a mobile phone then most Kenyans would be able to access and use the system. 

Following the test results on the system, SMS text messaging was perceived as a suitable and accepted medium to promote first aid awareness in Kenya.



CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background

Mobile health (mHealth) is the use of mobile computing and communication technologies in health care and public health (Caroline et al., 2013). mHealth involves the use of mobile and communication technologies to provide health information and health care services through the use of mobile electronic devices. It is an emerging field though test applications have been successfully implemented in health care promotion and illness prevention; health care service delivery, health care training and supervision, ePayments and other information systems applications and integrations.

According to the Nigeria Communication Commision report (CCN, 2013), mobile penetration stands at 96 per cent worldwide, with 128% in developed countries and 89% in developing countries. Mobile cellular network penetration in Kenya together with the drop in the cost of mobile phones and other portable mobile devices has created the platform for the implementation of mobile applications. Notable technologies in the mHealth field include mobile telephony, Short Message Service (SMS), SMS shortcode service,Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Android Applications, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc.

These technologies have enabled and supported mobile devices which help physicians in the health care sector. For instance specialized devices have been manufactured which are either small and mobile or large and bulky pieces of equipment, such as ultrasound scanners, devices for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis12, or devices which interface with smartphones, such as blood sugar level (BSL) monitors which can monitor and transmit results to physicians (Perera, 2012).

The use of mHealth technologies in the health sector not only makes health care service delivery more efficient but also solves the problem of human resource shortage in the health institutions (Goel et al., 2013).

1.2. Problem Statement

Onlookers in an accident scene can use their first-aid skills to advance outcome levels by providing emergency aid to emergency medical condition victims as well as staying around to help the victims and comfort them. However, in most incidences some by standers express fright of doing more damage while others lack self-confidence in trying out emergency aid (Kano et al., 2005).

 Basic first-aid skills can be helpful in taking care of small injuries that usually occur from accidents as well as assisting in emergency ill health such as epilepsy, nose bleeding, choking, burns, scalds, asthma attacks and trauma management to mention but a few. Unfortunately not many Kenyans have been trained in first aid and only a few of those who have attended emergency aid training are proficiency in first-aid skills due to lack of practice.

Cases of people spectating road accidents and terror attack scenes without offering emergency Aid to the victims have been witnessed in Kenya on different occasions. We have also witnessed epileptic people fall on the streets without anybody taking appropriate measures to help them. The most worrying cases are those we see on the media of reported babies who have died in the hands of their parents or house helps due to simple incidents such as choking. We envisage that the system under development will not only increase access to first aid information to the untrained but also serve as a reference and refresh tool to those trained.

1.3. Objectives of the System 

The general objective of this project is to develop a working prototype of SMS based first aid Information system and a database with information on first aid. The system shall be accessible through self-initiated trigger via SMS enquiry. A web portal for detailed diagram representation of the practical aspects will also be available both on computers and internet enabled mobile phones. Consequently, the specific objectives include

i.   To look at the potential of SMS in improving access to first aid information in Nigeria.

ii. To get the needs of the system users and other stakeholders.

iii.                       To determine the SMS interface design considerations for users and stakeholders of the system.

1.4. Scope 

This project will involve the development of SMS based system prototype for providing first aid information in Kenya. Both textual description and diagrammatic representation of the practical areas will be stored in the database.  A web portal developed in hypertext pre-processor (PHP) language with a Mysql database back end will be used as the data entry point. An SMS will be used to query first aid information from the database and the output will only be limited to the textual description. A link to the diagrammatic representation will be provided at the end of the reply SMS and internet enabled mobile phones will be able to open it for further details. Additionally, a website with the same information will be used to provide advanced details especially where Video clips have been used to illustrate first aid procedures. A detailed review of other related SMS based systems in Africa and other parts of the world will also be provided under literature review. 

1.5. Justification 

Knowledge of what action needs to be taken to manage a crisis can make the difference between life and death. Emergencies resulting from accidents and illness occur all around us, in everyday life. Since ambulances hardly arrive on time “the more people trained in basic first aid that may be able to keep a person alive until an ambulance arrives – the safer both our workplace and communities will be” (Jones,

2009). This system will therefore provide the following benefits to users and stake holders:-

i.                Enhance self-training on first aid procedures since users will be able to query information using SMS and learn about first procedures for various incidents and ill-health conditions.

ii.              Provide a reference and refreshing tool to the first aid trained users in case of emergency hence improving the chances of saving life.

iii.            Help stakeholders most especially first aid training institutions like St. John Ambulance Kadets to disseminate credible information about first aid procedures. Create a wider awareness of first aid procedures to Kenyans by creating a first aid SMS theory manual.


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