Asynchronous Remote Medical Consultation for Ghana

Rowena Luk, Melissa Ho, Paul M. Aoki

Computer-mediated communication systems can be used to bridge the gap between doctors in underserved regions with local shortages of medical expertise and medical specialists worldwide. To this end, we describe the design of a prototype remote consultation system intended to provide the social, institutional and infrastructural context for sustained, self-organizing growth of a globally-distributed Ghanaian medical community. The design is grounded in an iterative design process that included two rounds of extended design fieldwork throughout Ghana and draws on three key design principles (social networks as a framework on which to build incentives within a self-organizing network; optional and incremental integration with existing referral mechanisms; and a weakly-connected, distributed architecture that allows for a highly interactive, responsive system despite failures in connectivity). We discuss initial experiences from an ongoing trial deployment in southern Ghana.

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