Using mobile phones to ensure that referred tuberculosis patients reach their treatment facilities: a call that makes a difference

Kimcheng Choun, Shanta Achanta, Balaji Naik, Jaya Prasad Tripathy, Sopheak Thai, Natalie Lorent, Kim Eam Khun, Johan van Griensven, Ajay M V Kumar, Rony Zachariah

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Over the last decade, the availability and use of mobile phones have grown exponentially globally and in Cambodia. In the Sihanouk Hospital Centre of Hope(SHCH) in Cambodia about half of all tuberculosis patients referred out to peripheral health facilities for TB treatment initiation or continuation were lost to contact after referral ranging from 19 to 69% between 2008 and 2013. To address this, we implemented a mobile phone-based patient tracking intervention. Here, we report the number and proportion of referred TB patients who could be contacted through a mobile phone and retained in care after the introduction of mobile phone tracking.

METHODS: A descriptive study involving follow-up of TB patients referred out from SHCH to peripheral health facilities during May-October 2014. Standard operating procedures were used to contact individual patients and/or health facilities using a mobile phone.

RESULTS: Among 109 TB patients referred to peripheral health facilities, 107(98%) had access to a mobile phone of whom, 103(97%) could be contacted directly while 5(2%) were contacted through their health care providers. A total of 108(99%) of 109 referred TB patients in intervention period were thus placed on TB treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides preliminary, but promising evidence that using mobile phones was accompanied with improved retention of referred TB patients compared to historical cohorts. Given the limitations associated with historical controls, we need better designed studies with larger sample size to strengthen the evidence before national scale-up.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Pages (from-to)575
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article


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