Using Text Messages for Critical Real-time Data Capture in the ANISA Study

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Background:The Aetiology of Neonatal Infection in South Asia (ANISA) study takes advantage of text messaging technology to record information required for randomizing the study population into a control subcohort. The text message system is also used for monitoring various study activities.Methods:When a child-health worker registers a newborn in the study, she sends a text message to a database server containing the study identification number and newborn’s age at the time of registration. For each possible serious bacterial infection case, a study physician also sends a text message to the same server with the age of the young infant at the time of illness assessment. Using this information, a computer-based algorithm randomizes the newborn into a control subcohort. Text messages are also sent to alert the study physicians and study supervisors of a possible serious bacterial infection case being referred to health-care facilities. Phlebotomists working at remote specimen collection sites send text messages to the site laboratory personnel before sending the specimens through porters.Discussion:Real-time data entry and monitoring are challenging for any population-based study conducted in remote areas. Our text messaging system provides an opportunity to overcome this barrier where availability of data entry facilities is limited.

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