06/08/2016

Solving public health crises with mobile technology

The most widespread Ebola virus epidemic in history began in 2013 and continued for over two years, infecting tens of thousands of people and causing social and economic devastation on a frightening scale.  The outbreak was largely focused in three West African countries, and it was only through the herculean efforts of thousands of community leaders, educators, doctors, nurses, and public health workers that a much wider outbreak was avoided.

EbolaSituationMap

Simplified Ebola virus Africa epidemic situation map (December 2013 – January 2016) 

Tackling such a public health crisis requires a tremendous level of field coordination and information sharing in challenging environments, and eHealth Africa has been a technology leader in meeting these challenges during the Ebola outbreak.  eHealth Africa is a US-African NGO focused on developing and implementing technology solutions that connect and deliver public health services and commodities to underserved communities across the African continent.

We are proud that Telerivet plays a part in eHealth Africa’s technology solutions to such important problems.  “During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we needed to rapidly develop solutions to logistical challenges that had never previously been encountered,” says Didi Hoffmann, CTO of eHealth Africa.  “Telerivet allowed us to do this with a minimum of code, in a manner that was both reliable and scalable."

Directing Local Dispatch Teams via SMS

At the height of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, eHealth Africa rolled out call centers in three of the affected countries, which all ran on a web-based application that allowed operators to log and respond to reports of new cases. These operators would then pass on necessary information to local dispatch teams, who would quarantine and treat these cases.

EhealthComputers

In the affected countries where local dispatch teams often did not have internet access, SMS was the only viable medium for passing this information. In order to enable their application to send and receive SMS messages, eHealth Africa turned to Telerivet.

"Telerivet enabled us to rapidly prototype SMS based solutions and scale with the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa." - Didi Hoffmann, CTO of eHealth Africa

Telerivet's REST API and Webhook API provided an easy way for eHealth Africa's Node.js application to send and receive SMS. According to eHealth Africa's CTO, Didi Hoffmann, "Telerivet's simple REST API and client wrappers made it the obvious choice as a messaging platform."

In Sierra Leone and Guinea, where eHealth Africa acquired three SMS shortcodes from local mobile network operators, Telerivet integrated directly with the mobile networks' systems. In addition, Telerivet's Android app enabled eHealth Africa to send and receive SMS messages throughout West Africa without needing a mobile network integration.

Notifying Relatives of a Patient's Location via SMS

Rapid quarantining of infected individuals, a major part of the fight against Ebola, was done in Emergency Treatment Units (ETUs). But it soon became apparent that there was a lack of trust: once a patient had entered an ETU, there was no way of informing relatives of their status or whereabouts. As a result, patients would refuse to enter the ETUs, a factor that contributed to the ongoing spread of the disease.

To counter this, eHealth Africa developed Trace and Go, an open source application that notifies relatives and loved ones of the status and location of patients via SMS, using the Telerivet REST API to send messages.

"Once again we used Telerivet as a messaging platform; once again it helped us to save lives."

EhealthMeds


See how other healthcare organizations are using Telerivet to improve communication and public health, or check out Telerivet for yourself at telerivet.com

04/25/2016

Airtime as a public health incentive

Last year the Telerivet mobile messaging platform launched a new feature, airtime transfer, and in the last year we have seen some inspiring, innovative uses.

On over 450 mobile networks in more than 120 countries worldwide, Telerivet users can transfer airtime to help power their business operations, messaging services, community outreach, and marketing campaigns. 

New Incentives

In Nigeria, the nonprofit New Incentives is working alongside state governments and partners to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and neonatal mortality. Through their conditional cash transfer program, New Incentives incentivizes pregnant women to access lifesaving health services that often have low adoption rates - including registering for antenatal care and delivering in hospitals.  The intervention saves lives by reducing neonatal mortality and the rate of HIV-positive newborns.

New Incentives’ program has positively increased the demand for lifesaving health services in Nigeria. In the state of Akwa Ibom, facility deliveries at participating clinics have nearly doubled from 30% to 55% following program adoption. In addition to improving health behaviors, cash transfers also provide pregnant women and their families with invaluable financial resources during this vulnerable time.

New_incentives_mother

New Incentives uses Telerivet to disseminate airtime as an incentive for women in their programs. Airtime transfers have become an increasingly powerful tool for incentivizing survey responses and for promoting behavior change communication.

Since New Incentives' beneficiaries are already buying airtime in order to make calls, send SMS, and access the internet on their mobile phone, sending airtime reduces beneficiaries' communication expenses, and is a practical alternative to sending cash.

By using Telerivet, New Incentives is able to reliably reach their most remote beneficiaries. “Network reliability is an issue in Nigeria, therefore we count on Telerivet for the messages to arrive for hard-to-reach cases,” says New Incentives Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Stadler. “Telerivet also saves us hours each week compared to our previous method of disseminating airtime."

Read more about New Incentives and Telerivet here

Sending Airtime for your organization:

Each of the 450+ mobile networks supported by Telerivet sells different airtime values to Telerivet at different price markups. For some mobile networks, the airtime topups are priced at or below “face value” on Telerivet, while other mobile networks sell airtime at a markup. This month, Telerivet added thousands of new topup values, including small values that can be used to send incentives or rewards. In addition, the latest pricing update significantly reduced the average markup above face value, making Telerivet's airtime transfer feature even more affordable for organizations around the world.

This month, Telerivet added thousands of new topup values. To check the availability and pricing for the mobile networks in your country, visit the airtime pricing page.

In addition to Telerivet’s “built-in” support for these mobile networks, Telerivet can also integrate other airtime transfer APIs into your Telerivet account upon request (such as Africa’s Talking in Kenya or Selcom Wireless in Tanzania), for an additional monthly fee (learn more).

To learn more and start sending airtime today, visit the User Guide.

Try it out and email us at support@telerivet.com if you have any questions or feedback!

12/26/2015

2015 Technology Roundup

2015 has been a big year for Telerivet. We launched many new features and improvements this year, making Telerivet an even more powerful platform for mobile messaging. In case you missed it, here are a few of the biggest new features:

Airtime Transfer and Top-up

Powerful features for contact management

Automating SMS via Drag-and-Drop

New Data Visualizations

Using SMS polls to collect data? Telerivet now lets you visualize the top survey responses as a pie chart, bar graph, or table. When viewing the data table of poll responses, just click the “Stats” tab.

Poll_stats

Featured User: Femina Hip

Fema_coverFemina Hip is a multimedia platform and civil society initiative working with youth across Tanzania. Since 1999, their aim has been to promote healthy lifestyles, sexual health, gender equality, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.

In order to reinforce their message via SMS, Femina Hip uses Telerivet for several different activities:

Providing advice via an SMS hotline

Femina Hip created an SMS counseling hotline after realizing that many Tanzanian youth are more comfortable asking sensitive questions via SMS compared to other communication channels. With this SMS hotline, Tanzanian youth can send in their questions relating to sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment, and citizen engagement. A member of Femina's outreach team receives the question via Telerivet, and sends a personalized response. In each issue of Fema Magazine, Femina's team publishes some of the SMS questions in the column "Mpendwa Anti" (Dear Auntie).

Mpendwa_anti

Live audience interaction

Femina Hip's television and radio shows now have an audience interaction component to them that is run through an SMS system. During each episode a "question of the week" is asked, and audience members are asked to send an SMS answer.

Pushing out information to communities

Femina Hip uses Telerivet to periodically send out information to their audience, especially to inform them about new upcoming media products, such as new seasons of their television and radio shows.


Happy Holidays!

The Telerivet Team

10/23/2015

Number Insight: Validating and Cleaning Your Contacts

If you have an existing database of phone numbers, and you want to send SMS messages to them, it's easy to import the contact information into Telerivet. But how can you know if the phone numbers you've collected are actually valid, or whether they're mobile numbers capable of receiving SMS?

Telerivet now makes it easy to look up information about your phone numbers via our partnership with Nexmo.

On the Contacts page, Telerivet now provides a web interface to Nexmo's Number Insight API, which makes it easy to look up information about your contacts' phone numbers, including the type of phone number (mobile, landline, or VOIP), validity, mobile network, and country.

Number-insight
You can use Number Insight to detect invalid numbers, landlines, or VOIP phone lines in your contact list, so you can clean your contact list before sending SMS broadcasts.

Configuring Number Insight

In order to use Number Insight, you'll first need to register your own Nexmo account, so that you can pay Nexmo to use this functionality. (For pricing, see the Number Insight tab on Nexmo's pricing page.)

To configure Number Insight in your Telerivet account, go to your Contacts page and click Actions > Number Insight setup, or follow this link.

Running Number Insight

On your Contacts page, select any contacts to look up, then click Actions > Number Insight. Nexmo's Number Insight API will fill in information about the selected contacts. The process may take some time, depending on the number of contacts selected.

Number-insight2

Removing/Blocking Unwanted Phone Numbers

You can use Number Insight to help you remove invalid or unwanted phone numbers from your contact list before sending an SMS broadcast.

After running Number Insight on your contact list, you can use the "Filters" function on the Contacts page to create a filter for unwanted contacts, such as "Number Type is not mobile":

Not-mobile
After creating a filter for the contacts you don't want, select all contacts in the filter, then either block the contacts via Actions > Block sending, remove them from a group via Groups... dialog, or permanently delete them via Actions > Delete contacts.

Try Number Insight and email us at support@telerivet.com if you have any questions or feedback!

09/02/2015

Automating SMS via Drag-and-Drop

Subscription-simple2 Today, Telerivet is excited to make it dramatically easier for anyone to create your own automated SMS system. Without needing to hire a programmer or write a single line of code, you can easily create your interactive messaging service just by building an intuitive, visual flowchart.

Each action in your SMS service has a corresponding shape in the flowchart, and the logic flow simply follows the lines and arrows between the shapes. It's easy to add follow-up questions and handle responses to create an automated conversation.

As an example, let’s see how to create a registration flow to ask new subscribers to provide information about themselves. After they text the keyword JOIN, we’ll follow up by asking their name, then their email address.

Creating this SMS system with Telerivet only takes 2 minutes from start to finish.

In addition to triggering custom actions when an SMS is received, you can also trigger custom actions manually, for one or more messages or contacts. For example, you could message several contacts and wait for a response. Or, you could use custom actions to streamline your workflow and automate repetitive tasks like adding/removing contacts from groups, or updating contact information.

There are dozens of other improvements with this update, all with the goal of making it even simpler to create and manage automated SMS services. To explore the latest updates, visit the Services page in your Telerivet account.    

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