HC3’s broad, comprehensive view towards information and communication technology (ICT) considers ICT any use of electronic digital technology that helps achieve project objectives – from web platforms and mobile technologies to eLearning and social media.
HC3’s global web platforms connect social and behavior change communication (SBCC) professionals so they may share their experience and expertise. These platforms also provide access to high quality resources to perform better and advocate for the critical role of SBCC in public health.
HC3’s adaptable mobile solutions provide tools that target distinct user groups and are implemented at the country level to support frontline health workers, provide community members with access to health information and services and allow SBCC program managers to rapidly collect data to facilitate informed decision-making. Both formal and informal online learning tools provide capacity strengthening opportunities around a range of SBCC topics, from introductory concepts to more advanced strategy building frameworks.
Taken as a whole, HC3’s ICT portfolio provides replicable, adaptable solutions designed to overcome challenges to sustainable development of SBCC capacity and delivery of high-quality SBCC programs.
Global Web Platforms
Springboard for Health Communication is a virtual platform for sharing SBCC knowledge, experiences and resources. Springboard supports and nurtures regional communities of SBCC practitioners, scholars and policymakers. To date, almost 3,700 members from over 90 countries have joined and are participating in more than 700 conversations.
The Health COMpass offers an interactive platform for finding high quality SBCC tools and program examples. The collection is curated, presenting resources that have been designed using a strategic process and have demonstrated success. Users can create personal libraries of favorite/most used resources, and can comment on their own use of materials they find.
Materials from campaigns are linked to one another, and “Trending Topic” pages showcase materials on the latest issues in public health. In addition, the Health COMpass offers outstanding “How-to-Guides” to teach/refresh basic SBCC skills, and highlights concept-to-completion stories of worldwide SBCC campaigns in its “Spotlight” series.
The Ebola Communication Network was launched in October 2014 in response to the crisis in West Africa. It houses an online collection of Ebola resources, materials and tools from and for the global health community. Nearly 350 resources have been uploaded, including not only SBCC materials like posters, brochures and infographics, but also Demographic and Health Surveys of affected regions, customized maps and peer-reviewed journal articles.
In response to the outbreak of Zika in Latin America and its related birth defects, HC3 helped launch the Zika Communication Network in June 2016 to provide a platform for Zika-related tools and resources. Similar to the Ebola Communication Network, the ZCN houses high-quality Zika prevention and preparedness materials. Anyone can contribute to the ZCN, which houses materials in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.
Adaptable Mobile Solutions
Health Worker Tools
In Bangladesh, HC3’s Bangladesh Knowledge Management Initiative (BKMI) employed a variety of ICT solutions to support its SBCC capacity strengthening efforts among the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and other stakeholders in the health, population and nutrition sector. For program managers, an eToolkit full of SBCC planning, design, implementation and monitoring tools and resources is available, and two eLearning courses are available in English and Bangla on Monitoring and Evaluation, and Message and Materials Design (bdsbcc.org). For field workers, an eToolkit was developed containing SBCC print and audio-visual materials to support counseling activities at the household and community level. The eToolkit for field workers is available online, offline and as an app for Android-based mobile devices (BD HPN Toolkit). An eLearning course for field workers with eight modules is also available.
In Nepal, part of HC3’s mandate in Nepal is to strengthen the family planning interpersonal communication and counseling (IPC/C) skills of health workers and female community health volunteers (FCHVs). HC3 worked closely with the Nepal government and other key partners to enhance the existing classroom-based IPC/C trainings to include more scenario-based learning opportunities. As part of this effort, the program developed a multimedia distance education smartphone app for health workers and FCHVs, built on the open source OppiaMobile platform. The app presents users with several decision-making scenarios, selected from the results of research conducted to identify key provider barriers in IPC/C, as well as key reference materials and resources that can be accessed at any time, anywhere, including at the point of care, to improve counseling skills and service delivery.
Smart Client, Smart Couple is a set of digital health tools aimed at increasing the number of family planning clients who are informed, empowered and confident. “Smart Client” is designed for women of reproductive age and “Smart Couple” is designed for both men and women. The tools use an entertainment-education approach delivered through interactive voice response (IVR) and SMS, including a series of short dramatic episodes about a fictional couple, host chats and optional segments including sample dialogues, personal stories and quizzes.
Brothers for Life (BFL) in Cote d’Ivoire used an SMS-based intervention to increase HIV testing and counseling among participants of the program. BFL members are reminded by SMS to get an HIV test and encourage their friends and colleagues (also at higher risk of contracting HIV) to get an HIV test as well. Based on the success of this program, HC3 piloted a similar one focused on improving antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and address barriers to adherence.
Research and Rapid Data Collection
During the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, HC3 used GeoPoll – a mobile survey research platform for immediate reporting of data through mobile devices – to gain insight into people’s comfort or anxiety about a number of topics. Those included fears about visiting health facilities and children attending school to concerns about stigma, employment, quarantine and information provided to them from the government and international public health organizations/agencies. Results are available on an interactive dashboard that allows the user to choose either an overview of the data or a narrower focus by question/metric, measure, timeframe and demographic (age, gender, country, province, district).
Also in Liberia, to combat Ebola rumors in real time, HC3 partner Internews implemented the DeySay project in collaboration with the Liberian National Red Cross Society, Project Concern International and UNICEF. DeySay uses SMS to detect and manage rumors about Ebola. When health workers, NGOs or volunteers became aware of a rumor, they texted it to a central coordination hub in Monrovia. The information was collected, analyzed for trends and disseminated to local media partners to stop its spread. The system also used social mobilizers and aid workers to conduct door-to-door checks to address anxieties and misinformation.
Online Learning and Knowledge Management Tools
Self-paced SBCC Training Modules, originally developed by Ohio University under the C-Change project, supportted HC3’s core mandate to develop and strengthen competencies in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of SBCC activities. Since transition of the course to HC3: over 1,300 new learners have registered, 340 (25%) of them have completed at least one module, and of those 91 (27%) have completed all of the modules.
HC3 Webinars strengthened capacity in a variety of areas, from how to get research published to innovative gaming platforms for behavior change. HC3 to date hosted more than 60 webinars related to SBCC and HC3’s target health areas such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and family planning. HC3’s Innovation Webinar Series focuses on a range of subjects such as social media, gaming and behavioral economics.
SBCC Implementation Kits (I-Kits) are digital streamlined resources that walk users through the development of an SBCC approach to a technical health or organizational development topic. Each I-Kit gives program managers concrete examples and support on how to impact health outcomes through strategic communication. They include best practices, templates, case studies, and other practical resources, including a link to How-to Guides. Most I-Kits use elements of a communication framework or model (e.g. P-Process) to walk the user through the strategy development process. This process is then divided into steps so that the user can access information that is relevant to their work without having to review the entire I-Kit.
HC3’s Evidence Packages are a collection of databases, fact sheets and infographics that demonstrate the impact of SBCC. The searchable databases include research articles on SBCC interventions and their impact on specific health outcomes. Fact sheets and infographics make the evidence easy to share with researchers, practitioners and policymakers. These packages provide the global health community with evidence to advocate for social and behavior change.