DHIS Mobile covers the wide area of mobile development related to DHIS2, and we prototype and evaluate many different solutions for utilizing mobile technology to expand the reach of the Health Information System. Currently, our primary focus is on the three areas of java me applications, browser based mobile solutions and SMS solutions.
DHIS2 mobile clients
We have two Java ME based applications for low-end Java phones, facility reporting and program tracking. These applications communicates with an online DHIS2 instance, downloading datasets, activity plans and program stages, and allow the health worker can enter data and report back to the online server.
The main strength of these applications is that they work fine even when the phone is "offline", e.g. when the phone doesn't have a stable data connection to the server. The applications only need to communicate with the server to send reports and to update it's form data when those change on the server.
You can try the most recent builds of the applications by using these links on a java enabled phone:
The applications are setup to use the DHIS2 Demo
by default, login with username/password mobile/district.
To try the applications on a computer, one way is to download the Java ME SDK and run them in the emulator.
Browser based mobile client
In contexts where GPRS is widely available and health workers already have phones, a general server side user interface accessed through a mobile browser can be used without much setup or planning needed. With DHIS2 2.5, data entry is now possible through the mobile interface, from most low end phones with GPRS and without any setup needed.
We plan to expand on this interface quite a lot in the coming releases.
SMS based solutions
For a lot of use cases, a mobile application is not required. Some immediate examples with DHIS2 are sending
- information to health workers with mobile phones.
- reminders to beneficiaries in the community module.
- alerts when reported IDSP data requires a response
or for mobiles not Java enabled, asking DHIS2 for an SMS with
- data about a beneficiary
- simple aggregated or cumulated reports
In DHIS 2.6 we will have a more general SMS framework in place for using SMS for these and other use cases.
Older custom built SMS based applications
We have been running mobile applications with built-in forms, sending reports over SMS for a couple of years now. See this wiki for more on the early development.
These solutions are now phased out for new projects, but are still in production in some contexts.
The solution relies on making a custom made mobile application (using a template application) and reports are sent to DHIS2 using SMS. It is a simple and well tested solution, with the biggest deployment counting 5000 phones. The downside is the inflexibility, having to change and redeploy the application for all changes. It also cannot support more complex use cases like the Community module, where larger amounts of data has to be downloaded from the server.
Read more about custom built mobile clients.
With the recent increase in the efforts on the mobile side, we are in the process of establishing the dhis-mobile development project on launcpad to better coordinate the effort. Mobile client development are now under that project, while server side development is done as part of the regular DHIS2 project. The project is coordinated by the mobile team, that also has a mailing list.