Health Communication: Challenges of the Digital Age

By: Andre Marreiro, Project Manager

Quality communication to and from the general population and healthcare providers is essential, to tackle some of the biggest public health challenges in the world. If you are a healthcare professional looking to use platforms that provide tracking and tracing of patients, follow up, or adherence of medication, there are some facts that should be considered:

  • When choosing and developing a platform to monitor patients or contact them, technological limitations should be kept in mind. It is important to find a technology that matches the capabilities and limitations of your target. For example, if your project is focused on patients in resource limited settings, a technology based on smartphone-based technologies might not be the better option.
  • Global projects with stakeholders spread across the world are more and more common. It is important to understand that cultural differences exist. This diversity can be very positive and bring different perspectives to the table. When it comes to communication and working together, it can however lead to some additional challenges, such as how direct communication is, trouble with accents and fluency, or even different ways of dealing with conflict. It is important to be sensible to these differences and try to find ways to align and properly communicate.

When access to internet or a smartphone is not an option to get in contact, alternative methods are valuable. To that end, the Global Public Health department of Janssen Pharmaceutical has created a platform called ‘Connect for Life™’ which helps bridge the gap between patients and healthcare professionals. This is achieved by using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and/or by sending text messages to patients’ mobile phones. The sent messages are short actionable messages targeting medication adherence, missed appointments or symptom reports. This platform is currently being used in multiple countries, such as Uganda, the Philippines and India. Programs supported by ‘Connect for Life™’ include HIV, tuberculosis, and mental health. More recently, it has been repurposed for COVID-19 support in Uganda, monitoring patients that are in quarantine by providing them a tool to report evolution of symptoms.

Modis Life Sciences is currently supporting the migration of ‘Connect for Life™’ to OpenMRS and its deployment, by helping to gather requirements of specific implementations and supporting customization of the platform. OpenMRS is an open-source EMR platform used in more than 5500 healthcare facilities and 40 countries. This migration will ensure accessibility by a broader community and open the possibility of cooperation in further development of the platform.


At Modis Life Sciences, we have a multidisciplinary team who can help your organization when it comes to technology centered projects. We understand that innovation is essential and the approach to each project should be tailored to the specific needs of each partner and the geographical challenges. We can work together with you to support those needs.

– Andre Marreiro, Project Manager